Bunny Win 12x12" oil

Bunny Win 12×12″ oil-on-aluminum

Suspended . . . Coney Island painting project. The beach, Washington Baths, swimming, blackball, cool sand under the boardwalk, with friends, watching Tuesday night fireworks, Nathan’s hotdogs, French fries and steamed corn.

I didn’t get to choose between writing and painting until I decided to paint Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite in 2009. Captivated by how the painting came to life, Indigo Sky is an historic romantic adventure inspired by Bierstadt’s journey from the Catskills to Yosemite.

Indigo Sky Bookcover

Indigo Sky Bookcover

After extensive studies and writing workshops, among many was Carol Dannhauser’s Memoir writing and Michael Hauge’s, A Hero’s Journey. I realized that I could never get this book written while I was still painting. My writing hijacked me and held me prisoner until the ‘end.’ The time flew by, those several years. Consider, I could have acquired a PhD in writing!  Metaphors and similes, the tools serious writers need made a difference, I learned and I loved writing . . . Truly!!!

One day, I looked up—Soul Mate Publishing published my book—suddenly, I was a published author.

You see, I had been painting full time, everyday, three workshops every week, sketching, photographing, scanning, framing, it is a full time job. Writing is the same. I did a ton of research before I even began to write. Then I wrote everyday, researched when necessary. Writing is rewriting. First draft, second draft, edit, edit and more edit. Then when the publisher’s editor got hold of it, we did more editing. We deleted down from 86k to 82k. It was not scary or sad. It was good. I knew it needed more editing, always, especially when a professional looks at your work.

Domes of Yosemite (Ode to Bierstadt) Ingis Claus

Domes of Yosemite (Ode to Bierstadt) 24×36″ acrylic on canvas


Finally, when the book was published, I finished my painting project. I love to paint! Now, literally, with the show on the road, I am seriously thinking about writing my next historical romance, maybe in and around Coney Island. This blog sees the culmination of my Coney Island painting project, on view, until September 30 at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT. Come party with us on Thursday, September 8, from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Clap along with us as we demo a swing dance (Lindy) just like in Coney Island way back when, to the big band mix of, ‘In the Mood, Sweet Sue, Rockin’ the Rock named “Jive Bunny.” See the invitation here:

Coney Island: Visions from the Boardwalk
Meet Artist-Writer Gail Ingis Claus at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
Artist Reception and Book Signing Party, Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 pm Enjoy exotic aged cheeses, grapes, berries, and veggie crudites generously provided by Susan Kane, Catering

Cyclone, Oh What a Ride 12x24 OilConey Island’s Cyclone: Oh What a Ride 12×24 Oil-on-Anodized-Aluminum

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is pleased to present more than 25 paintings
from artist-writer Gail Ingis-Claus. The artist will be signing copies of her new
book entitled INDIGO SKY. During the reception, the Lockwood-Mathews
Mansion Museum will be offering the book at a special show price.
Unique Offer: Enter at the reception to Win A FREE Book and a Coney Island
print! Attendees of the Artist Reception and Book Signing Party on Thursday,
September 8, 2016, will be entered to win a complimentary copy of Gail’s novel in
paperback and a Coney Island print from her art collection. The drawing will take place
shortly before closing at 7:15 pm. The winning ticket holder must be present to
receive the free book, bookmark, and print of Coney Island.
Founding Patron
The Estate of Mrs. Cynthia Clark Brown
2016 Distinguished Benefactors:
The Maurice Goodman Foundation
Sponsor: www.investmarkfinancial.com
RSVP by Friday, Sept 2, 2016
203-838-9799 ext. 4 Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850

Free, win an Indigo Sky eBook download. Winner chosen from those who comment! Deadline, Wednesday, August 17th at midnight.





An important piece of American history is in this book

My guest today is author Bonnie Johnston. Her life-long interest in history and genealogy provided material for research and narrative writing that evolved into writing an historical novel based on the life of her ancestor, Anna Margaretha Mallow. Bonnie’s debut novel The Dark Side of the Mountain was published in November 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Bonnie, where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing? Two high school English teachers encouraged my English major choice. My grandfathers shared tales of Indian raids and gave us history quizzes. This raised my curiosity about my ancestors. It led me on a journey of research and writing.6a18844a-4e8f-47f1-8ebf-b01b6fd53a2b

When did you first start writing? Writing has always been a passion. Especially long letters to family members and narratives about genealogy. Retirement from teaching gave me the time I needed to organize the several book chapters I had written. I discovered interesting tales of my ancestors, like the Fort Seybert massacre in 1758.

Graves beyond the wall of the massacred in 1758

Beyond this wall are the graves of the 1758 massacred

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? Stories and documentation of the lives of pioneer women, rare during the 18th century, had to be written. I chose to write the story of a woman who was captured with her five children at Fort Seybert by the Shawnee Indians. A point of interest is her son, my ancestor, an early Ohio settler, who returned from six years of captivity in Chillicothe, Ohio.

View from atop spruce Know, highest point in the Alleghenies

View from atop Spruce Knob, highest point in the Alleghenies, the mountain range above the site of Fort Seybert

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? The novel took two years to write and another year to find a publisher.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you? The process of writing and publishing has been long and tedious. Joy was found through the process because of connections with distant family who share my interest in the colonial period.

How do you organize your writing? I have no special process for writing. Some days I spend hours and other days I print out material and make notes. I do find that I prefer editing on paper with a black pen and then making changes on the computer.

What are you working on next? My second novel is about a woman who outlived three husbands, survived an Indian raid, lost her daughter, and was one of the first settlers in Dayton, Ohio. My third book, a collection titled Tales of Frontierswomen, will include a chapter about Anne Ballard, who was tied to a cannon in front of Jamestown during the Bacon Rebellion in the late 1600s. Another chapter tells the story of Sarah Pease, a Salem witch who managed to survive after a year in the Salem jail.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? When there’s time, I play bridge and tennis with my husband. We travel to visit our children and grandchildren who live many states away. This fall I will be speaking at several groups about my novel and the subjects of my research.

The Dark Side of the Mountain excerpt:

In the mid eighteenth century, a young couple named Michael and Anna Mallow arrive in Pennsylvania, two of the many who have left the Old World behind in search of a new life. Michael is ambitious, he wants his children to inherit a better world, and he very quickly grows out of the original homestead, tempted to go further west, to distant western Virginia where the land grants are bigger.

His wife does not want to move. To her, the journey from Germany to Pennsylvania was sufficiently arduous, and she is frightened by the whispers of unrest among the native tribes. But an eighteenth-century wife has little say in the major decisions in life, so reluctantly she agrees to her husband’s plans.

Their new home is smack in the middle of the war brewing between the French and English, with the displaced local tribes joining the French in a desperate attempt to wrest their lands back from the settlers. White colonists are murdered, women and children are abducted, and Anna lives with a tightening noose of fear round her neck – until the day when everything she feared would happen does, with her carried off to captivity with some of her children while the younger three lie dead.

Fort Seybert flying the British flag

Fort Seybert flying the British flag

This is a fascinating piece of American history. Bonnie is fortunate to be part of this important legacy.

Question of the day: What most do you remember about American history?


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