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.
Author Madelyn Hill
Authors are the most thought-provoking people. Sometimes I think how in the world did they come up with that story or how did they get their heroine out of that mess? Does it have any correlation to their lives? Of course we have the classics, and more notable authors that we know about, but I have to be honest, the lives of authors have not been the stimulant for me, but rather how the author keeps me on the edge of my seat.
Now that I write, my curiosity has gotten the better of me and I want to know all. Who are these people, these writers? I ask my writer friends at the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America. What do you do besides write? How do you have time to live your life and still write? Do you have a family? Where did you go to school? What did you study? I sometimes I wish I had a talk show, where I could ask all the questions I want without running out of time. Little by little, I discovered the wonder of these authors, who they are, what they do, and how in the world they have time to write these amazing stories.
With no TV talk show at my fingertips, my blog will have to do. It is a perfect venue to provide some answers to the curious. This week, I am interviewing Madelyn Hill, published author with Soul Mate Publishing. Madelyn graciously accepted my invitation to give us some insight about her life and her historic romances.
GI: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
MH: I grew up in Michigan and lived in the same house until I got married. We grew up with dogs, horses, goats, and rabbits and had our run in a nearby forest where we rode horses, dirt bikes, and played hide-and-seek. I feel the way we grew up allowed us to create adventure and nurture our creative side, which is a definite plus when you are a writer.
GI: When did you first start writing?
MH: I started writing around fifth grade. Silly stories and some Harriet the Spy type of stories.
GI: What book do you wish you could have written?
MH: I wish I could have written Harry Potter. Such wonderfully engaging, world creating, adventures in every book. I believe the series revolutionized the adolescent market and sparked the reading bug in young children.
GI: Do you believe that Harry Potter is good? What about scary?
There are those that believe taking young children into the fairyland of ghosts and goblins will ultimately frighten them, a fright that effects their dreams and ultimately their health. Is the inspiration to read worth it?
MH: Harry Potter is scary and I think parents need to know what their children are reading or watching. But it is the age-old Good against Evil theme. Also, think about all of the fairy tales we tell children. Bambi, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella–they all have very scary elements, but we still tell them, embrace them and make them into Disney Movies.
GI: Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
MH: There are so many authors who inspire me! When I was younger I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume and now Sarah Dessen. In the historical market, I love Julia Quinn, Cathy MacRae and Christi Caldwell. In the contemporary market I read Adriana Trigiani and Sarah Addison Allen.
GI: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
MH: I usually have the name of the main characters and the title of the book before I even write a word. I do a lot of googling to find historic appropriate names. I usually do not look at their meaning, but the sound and readability matters. Also, I try to make sure there aren’t a lot of characters with the same letter in their first name. That can get confusing for the reader.
GI: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Pantster at work!
MH: I really like the creative part of starting a story and allowing it to organically flow from my fingers. This may mean there are a lot of necessary edits, but I’m a pantster (write by the seat of her pants) and work off of a very rudimentary plot outline. I do pre-research on location, time period, family names, and characters.
GI: So, you are a pantster. Don’t you have it all in your head before you write? You must have some kind of plan? Then how do you structure your story? When you edit, is that when you pull your story together?
MH: Yes, I pull the story together when I edit. I generally have an idea of where the story is going as I research but I don’t outline and usually write the synopsis after the story. This is sometimes frustrating and I try to plot but it just doesn’t work for me.
GI: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
MH: I love to cook and my husband and I are avid moviegoers! We also have a very busy family life with our 3 children. And of course I read a ton!
GI: When and where do you write?
MH: Usually in the family room on the couch or in our office/sitting- room. I work during the day so I usually write at night and weekends. I use the record feature on my phone for impromptu notes while driving (hands free) or waiting for one of my children.
GI: What do you want your tombstone to say?
MH: Wow! Great question. Hmmm. We all play roles in life and my most fulfilling have been as a mother and wife. But I’ve also been able to fulfill my dreams as well. So, I would like my tombstone to read – Madelyn Hill – she lived her dream.
GI: What’s your latest book, and where can my readers find it?
MH: For the Love of a Gypsy
Love Of A Gypsy
Back cover blurb
Can she betray the Gypsy clan who saved her for the love of a stranger?
Martine Petrulengo is stifled by the traditions of her adopted Gypsy clan. They gave her new life when she was left all alone. And now she is expected to marry in order to forge clan allegiances. When she nurses handsome and charming Lord Declan Forrester back to health, she is lured by the seductive idea of life outside of the clan—and the prospect of love with the Irishman.
Can he prove his innocence in order to claim his Gypsy?
Lord Declan Forrester trades prison bars for a loveless marriage in order to save his soul. And now he’s trying to prove his innocence not only as a traitor, but that of his wife’s murder. When the lovely and beguiling Martine saves him, he falls in love for the first time. Yet, the obstacles of his past seem insurmountable.
Martine and Declan must fight tradition, prejudice and the haunting ghosts of their past in order to fight for their love and ensure their future.
GI: Madelyn, thanks for sharing with my readers.
MH: Thanks for inviting me.
Madelyn Hill books:
COMING SOON, “Heather in The Mist” -July 2015
“For The Love Of A Gypsy” – April 2015
“Wolf’s Castle” – June 2014
Yay! Its Thursday and I have some good news to share.
Beautiful Blogger Award
Marian Lanouette, writer, has passed The Beautiful Blogger Award to me. I am pleased, honored and grateful. Thank you for poking me Marian! Marian writes mysteries with romantic elements. Her first novel and the first in the series, If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery, will be released in September 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing. Marian is from Brooklyn like me. Yay Brooklyn. Check out Marian at www.marian-l.blogspot.com.
And another thank you to Casey Wyatt, whom I think awarded it to me a few months ago. But I wasn’t ready to accept such a distinguished standing. She publishes two posts every Friday. If you have a chance check out her blog at CaseyWyatt.com and Secrets of 7 Scribes blog, you’ll be glad you did.
Life is busy for me, always; great and grinding, I seem to find it easy to dig my own grave. Digging out is difficult, but not when you are creating and sharing like when I am doing this blog.
And here are the rules for the award, which I’m not going to follow to the letter. I like to create my own rules now and then.
Rule 1 – Share seven things about me. I’ll do six.
1. The first is above. I like to tailor the rules from time-to-time.
2. I am bionic. Pins hold me together at the hip and my tennis-serving arm.
3. But I maintain my membership in the professional tennis teaching United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). I taught tennis for twenty years. The painting below is in the USPTA Houston headquarters.
USPTA Watercolor by Gail Ingis Claus
4. We own three cars, but there are only two of us.
5. I failed history in High School, but I founded a school of interior design and had to teach it!
6. My favorite book is “Gone with the Wind.” And I am writing an Historic Romance.
Gone With the Wind image from the movie
Rule 2 – The next rule is to pass the award to seven bloggers. I am passing it on to five.
The award is passed to:
1. Katy Lee, Katy is a published writer and hard working dedicated home-school teacher. See more here: www.katyleebooks.com.
2. Kate Rothwell, Kate is a multi-talented published author. She has worked as a service manager/parts runner in a Saab garage, and much, much more. See more here: www.katerothwell.com.
3.Thea Devine,Thea is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance. Romantic Times calls her “The Queen of Erotic Romance,” Affaire de Coeur: “… the divine mistress of sensual writing …” www.theadevine.com
4. Julianne Stirling, ASID, (American Society of Interior Designers). Julianne is an interior designer extraordinaire, President of her own company. You can find her blog in her website links. www.stirlingdesignassociates.com.
5. David Dunlop, David is an amazing artist, lecturer and teacher. He shares his knowledge and artistic skills with his students. His students follow him here in the USA and across the seas. www.paintingclass.net/blog.
Do you have a favorite most beautiful blog?
This was fun and a change of blog direction. Last week was the start of color, come back next week for more.
…History says it takes a village, an army, the world to save the planet. Devastation of the earth
is happening at an alarming rate. After lifetimes of disposing, denigrating and devastating our waterways, our parks, our forests, we, as a human race, are reviewing and working on mending our ways. Hopefully. Are we getting smarter? Are we learning about greening our planet? Oil spills into our ocean, rivers, lakes, wildlife kills in our parks, desecrating our rain forests.
And what about air pollution? What formations do you see in the clouds, the sky, the flowers. Pollution affects cloud formation. In the case of aerosol pollutants, if the air pollutants reflect the sun’s light, the cloud cover increases. If they absorb it, cloud growth is stunted. Look at the cloud masses.
In the 70’s we tried to get industries to stop filling the air with the end products of mass production. And for awhile, a short while, manufacturers stopped the smoke, the ground fill, the medical waste. Who is in control, the government, the people, commerce? It always seems to boil down to the who gets the mega money.
What do the once beautiful waterways, parks and forests look like to you?
Polar bear walking in water
The ice the polar bears walked on to find fish is melting. Now they have to swim for their dinner, or starve, or become vegan.
Mother of two cubs in snow
Oil around rig
Oil floats around a rig at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP.
The White House says the BP oil spill is probably the greatest environmental disaster the US has faced, but the true impact on surrounding ecosystems could take years to emerge. Experts say the unprecedented depth of the spill, combined with the use of chemicals that broke the oil down before it reached the surface, pose an unknown threat.
How would you express your views on “Place and Politics” as an artist, a writer, a philosopher, from your life/your travels?
Robert Genn, a successful artist, instructor, writer sends his “Twice-Weekly Letter” to artists the world over. In his September 2, 2011 letter he talks about paucity. This letter is particularly meaningful to me both as an artist and writer. His letter is reproduced here with his permission.
I was putting the title The Red Canoe on the back of a painting when my friend Joe Blodgett walked in and said, “Nice painting, too bad about the red canoe.”
After a couple of single malts I was looking at the painting through Joe’s eyes. I was pleasant enough when I urged him to go down to the smokehouse to get our smoked salmon, and while he was gone I took off the final varnish and hauled that canoe out of my picture.
Yesterday, Katharina Keoughan of Friendship, Maine wrote, “In your last letter you mentioned ‘the principle of paucity.’ What is paucity, and why is it good to have in one’s work?”
Thanks, Katharina. Paucity means “the presence of something in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity.” In our game, it’s one of the main principles. Apart from “His criticism shows a paucity of tact,” or “His resistance to Scotch shows a great deal of paucity,” most significant is the presence of paucity in our work.
“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything,” said Voltaire, and he wasn’t talking about his girlfriend, Emilie du Chatelet. A painting with paucity is one that tells you just enough to arouse your interest–perhaps leading to another excellent word–mystery. Unless the viewer is an engineer, give him too much info and he will yawn and go over to the wine and cheese. In some paintings it’s best to have viewers launch their own canoes.
Overwork, overstate and over-busy are three of the top boo-boos. We come by them honestly–from our innate human desire to give more. Sometimes it takes another person’s eyes to see there’s too much going on. Sometimes it’s painful to remove stuff. But art very often needs lines that disappear, it needs subjects that are suggested rather than told, it needs incomplete areas so viewers can complete for themselves. Our work does not have to be a seamless stream of cleverness.
The same is true in writing. Passages are almost always better when cut back. Writing is rewriting.
We eventually shipped my non-canoe painting. Through the magic of acrylic covering power, nobody knows what’s under there. Somewhere out in the Diaspora there’s a canoeless scene called “The Red Canoe.”
Thank you Robert for your words. Robert’s words are indicative to my driving points in the Victoriana series about clutter.
You can subscribe to Robert’s free Twice-Weekly Letter anytime. His pearls of wisdom are inspiring.
Have you ever looked at tree holes (sky holes) between branches? Are you inspired by what’s not there to write, to dream, to explore? As Robert requests of his readers, I request as well, read this letter and give us your input on the value of leaving things out.