Rosie Selfie

I love to see the writing trends and what’s being read in different locales. So here I am doing my research in far away Greece. Well, someone has to do it!

You see, my older brother, Ted, is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and my sister Angela – an ex-dancer – is recovering from knee surgery. So, the best idea was to scoop everyone up and retreat to this sleepy village on the Greek coast, where we can do family healing and recouping – and where I can get a proper break from running the Woman’s Club of Hollywood.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, during those cold winter months.

And, as I sit on my balcony in the afternoon sun, while my siblings take a siesta, I concluded that this was indeed a very good idea!

Rosie in Greece 2

Behind me, the Taygata Mountains shield us from the rest of Greece. In front I can see the waves of the Ionian Sea rolling in, then rhythmically retreating. Olive trees and the occasional lemon tree fill in everywhere else, colored by a profusion of wildflowers wherever one looks. The birds – chaffinches, sparrows, house martins and the constantly-cooing doves – provide the background music. With the occasional bleat from a stray goat, or a distant dog bark.

Not many distractions for industrious writers here.

Rosie and sister 2 croppedAnd there are small writers’ groups in the little villages. Especially poetry writers. Mostly American, German and English ex-pats, who escaped the cold winters of their homelands to have a fresh start here.

An ideal place for writers – except that it’s very hard to get work done in such an idyllic surrounding. It was in the next village that Nicholas Kazantzakis wrote about the legendary local man, Zorba the Greek – the black-and-white film of the book had the iconic music as Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn danced on the local beach. Ernest Hemingway, Lawrence Durrell, Dorothy Parker and other writers would stay nearby at the home of British writer and war hero, Patrick Leigh Fermor. His home has recently been turned into a writers’ retreat, with programs through UCLA and the New York and the British Library. We watched it being restored over recent years and toured the light and airy library and living and writing rooms. A magical place.

But, back to today’s writing. In the small local Katerina supermarkets, I always head for the book stands to see what’s being read. Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Childs and James Patterson head the English-language shelves, with Danielle Steele and Mary Higgins Clarke perennial favorites for holiday reading. The same titles printed in Greek and in German occupy the next shelves. Victoria Hislop’s beautifully written and researched sagas based on Greek and Spanish civil wars are prevalent and, on a lighter note, Joanna Trollop, Lucida Riley, Leah Fleming and, still, Agatha Christie paperbacks remain popular purchases. At one of the nearby cafes there is a “bring one/take one” wall of books, where one can swap a book you’ve finished and read something different.

Rosie and Sister

Here I am with my sister Annie.

There’s a lot of sitting in the shade of the olive trees or under an umbrella on the beach and reading done here. Forget about TV in this part of the world – so there’s a lot of reading and writing going on. Until you nod off, that is, and awaken 40 minutes later, wondering where you are and what you’re supposed to be doing! I have done that many times since being back here! I’m catching up on lost sleep!

But getting away from one’s normal routine can be very productive. As Marcel Proust pointed out: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.”

Looking at one’s life and work from afar brings new perspectives.

I have long been working on a book of the history of the Woman’s Club of Hollywood that has occupied my life for lo these many years. Here, I have been able to attack it with a different, fresh approach. I have also taken a different slant with two of my other half-finished novels that really need to be ‘out there.’ And I’ve been sketching a new mystery set in these parts.

I picked up an interesting idea from the prolific Lee Goldberg (who wrote the “Monk” television series, “Diagnosis Murder,” and recently Hallmark’s “Mystery 101”) on my recent trip to the Left Coast Crime Writers’ Conference, where we were fellow panelists.

Lee explained that script writing was much easier and quicker for him than all the novels he had written. Novels take him many months to write. Scripts could be done in a matter of weeks – often due to the pressing time allowed by the studios. So now he does a simple script of his new novel first. In the script, he said, he writes the step by step ‘what happened.’ No back-story and scant descriptions. Because, in a TV or film production, all the other departments fill this in.

The Casting Department bring in the actors whose personality, looks and ability provide the story’s characters. The Costume designers create the clothes for everyone, based on their view of the script they have read. The Production Designer designs the sets and, with the Art Department, select the locations and the back-drops. The Prop Master decides all the bits and pieces that fill the set, bringing it further to life. It’s a collaborative effort. They all meet up and discuss their ideas, along with the Cinematographer, Lighting and sound people. They each add their own talents and experience, orchestrated by the Director and the Producer. Writing the script, Lee says, is the simple part. He may not agree with or recognize the end-product on the screen, but, as long as the check didn’t bounce, he’s okay with this.

And so, he uses that basis for his novels now. He says it’s quicker than the old outline route. He writes the basic storyline as he would a script. With this, he can see if there is a part of the mystery or plot that doesn’t work, or something left unfinished. Once he knows he has the story worked out, he will go back in and fill in the character details, the background, the setting. This is the stage where he adds in any research he has undertaken and adds the touches of flavor and nuances. Whatever that particular novel needs to bring it to life.

And so, as the sun begins to sink behind the olive trees, I have re-assessed my various writing projects with fresh, ‘new’ eyes. Would fresh, ‘new eyes’ change your current writing?

                  Love from Greece,


Rosie in Greece 3

18 thoughts on “MY GREEK SOJOURN….”

  1. Rosemary, what a marvelous post. I am green with envy. Than k you for sharing your Greek home, it sounds idyllic. – why would you ever come back to the U.S. when you have your island’s fantastic offerings and that writers retreat? To say nothing of the inspiration from fellow writers there. Thank you, too, for Lee Goldberg’s idea for a type of outline. Not sure if it would work for me as the more words I write the more words come rushing through. On top of it all you are with your family. Best wishes for their recovery. I hope your books are written in doubt-quick time after your return to L.A. You have a lot on your agenda!


    1. It’s tempting to stay on – but I’d never really get much done, except eat and sleep! Especially with family around! I like to work in isolation in my own L.A. apartment. And Lee’s idea is interesting, isn’t it? I shall try it out when I get home. Although, like you, once I start, my typing fingers keep running away with the story… Thanks Jill.


  2. Greece will always have a special place in my heart, and I really like that script wtiting approach you described. A fresh outlook indeed! Thank you for this post✨

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. In such a brief article a very deep glimpse of your writing life! Of course the setting helps waxing poetic, but the connection with echoes of where other lone authors have walked, and the cut to how Hollywood writers works with group minds is such a fascinating juxtaposition! Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I guess that escaping to Greece really inspires one to view the writers’ life in a different light with new eyes. So glad you joined us.


  4. Oh, Rosemary, loved your post, top to bottom–though sorry your sister and brother are suffering ailments right now. So glad they have you. Pictures, Greece, what daily living is like, writing ups and downs–all so interesting, I think. Especially, since I spend a lot of time watching TV and snoozing! And you’re looking great! The Greek sunshine, houses, bays–all look and sound colorful and inviting. A far cry from Hollywood area?
    Have several desert surviving olive trees in my yard–so from mine to yours–rest, enjoy as best you can, and my sincere hope your siblings are better soon.
    And isn’t it amazing how we can all communicate so easily and fast across the ocean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful, Mad, how we can communicate across the world today. I know my num and dad would have loved this ability we have – and so often take for granted!
      And I have a delicious recipe for your olive leaves! I am envious that you have olive trees!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like such a wonderful trip, Rosemary–so much to see, so much to do, including write! Even though I’m happy enough to be working at home, I can’t help but be somewhat envious. Enjoy!


    1. Linda – I am just envious of the number of books you write. You have had such success with so many different novel series. That’s what you get for staying home…


  6. Rosie, That script writing approach is masterful. And since Lee Goldberg has a few scripts under his belt, like a hundred or so, that is really a good source for information. Enjoy your sojourn, but we want you back … eventually. Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gayle. I am now in London – so not able to get online while I was traveling again. I am refreshed and re-inspired and keen to get back and write again. And I will try out Lee Goldberg’s scripting idea…


  7. What a joyous expedition you took us on, Rosemary. Great scenery, great inspiration and great ideas. Admittedly I’m a little envious of your sojourn, though more so of spending extended time with your faraway family, something I miss so much. Sending healing thoughts to your ailing siblings.


    1. Thanks, Miko. My siblings and I spent a lot of time giggling and laughing over lovely Greek wine and food, so I think it gave them a lot of healing – and wonderful memories… A family sojourn that was much overdue.


  8. Rosemary, how I envy you! I’ve cruised through the Greek Islands, but at a quick pace. To be able to spend time there would be heaven on earth. Thanks for sharing Mr. Goldberg’s tip—I plan to try it the script approach. Best wishes.


    1. Thanks, Maggie. I’m now in London, about to head back to L.A. It was magical, indeed, spending so much time relaxing. Much needed and very restorative! And I am also going to try out Lee’s idea.


  9. Rosemary, I think we were in the same area at maybe a close time. But we only visited Katakolon (Olympia) and my beloved Corfu. Isn’t travel grand? Our 22-day cruise was also heaven. Sunny, warm days, smooth (almost glassy) waters, a gentle rocking at night that gave me the greatest sleep in ages, beautiful sunsets, and being spoiled from everyone. Ahhhh.
    But we also need to come home, at least for me, to feed my cat and spruce up the garden, pay the bills and teach my classes. For you, I hope you do get more writing done, especially the history. That will be so valuable to the club.
    Here’s a cappaccino to you! Write and enjoy.
    (And don’t do as I did and get appendicitis!!! Haha)


    1. Gracious, Jackie – Appendicitis! Hope you’re doing better now… and, yes, I am recharged and ready o write up a storm!!


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