Remember, Remember with Rosemary Lord

 

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Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House!  She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

* * *

Goodness – November already! November is the month we have an abundance of remembrances.

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November: gunpowder, treason and plot…” – so begins the children’s rhyme about the failed gunpowder plot of 1605 by Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. Traditionally, on chilly November 5th evenings, we celebrated with bonfires in the garden where, as kids, we burned effigies of Guy Fawkes (simply known as ‘guys’), roasted jacket potatoes in the fire and drank steaming mugs of hot cocoa in the dark, as the grown-ups set off fire-works. For days prior to this, young children would parade their ‘guys’ around the streets on carts, asking for “a penny for the guy” – to earn money to buy the fireworks. Somehow, I don’t think this happens today… but it was fun while it lasted.

Every third Thursday of the eleventh month, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, when we remember how thankful we are for living in America. We recall the many people and things we have to be thankful for and remember those brave pioneers, the Pilgrims and the early settlers who paved the way for us. In America, this is the biggest family holiday when we celebrate with turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings.

And there is Remembrance Day: at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Great Britain and allied and Commonwealth countries observe two minutes silence to honor those fallen in combat. November 11th marked the end of World War One in 1918 and November eleventh is still honored to this day. Also known as ‘Poppy Day,’ The British Legion sells red poppies that are worn in the days preceding November 11th, as a mark of respect, and wreaths of poppies are placed on public monuments.

In the United States, November 11th is Veterans’ Day – formerly called Armistice Day – and honors all those who served in the military in various conflicts. (In America, Memorial Day at the end of May, honors all those who lost their lives in these conflicts.)

This Remembrance, or Veterans’ Day, I was in London, viewing the seas of red poppies wherever I looked. So forgive me if I share once again, the comments I had written a couple of years ago, on the occasion of this solemn, yet so very proud, moving, tradition:

We honor all those ordinary – yet extraordinary – folk who have stood between us and harm’s way throughout the ages. They sacrificed their lives so that we could have the freedom to live on.

In England we call November 11th Remembrance Day, when we remember all those who lost their lives in various conflicts. The Remembrance Poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” written in May 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after he noticed all the red poppies that had grown over the graves where so many soldiers, nurses and others were buried in that far off Belgian field in the first World War.

Since 1919, our fallen ones have been commemorated in England with two minutes silence at the 11th hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. This marks the end of World War One, known as The Great War, in 1918.

Since then, time stands still in Britain for these two minutes. In London, as Big Ben rings the last stroke, traffic comes to a stand-still. Red London buses, black taxi-cabs and delivery vans come to a halt in central London and throughout the country. Pedestrians stop, many bow their heads as a sign of respect for all those who have fallen in conflicts since then. So much is said in that two minutes silence.

In their honor we wear artificial red poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance or Armistice Day – known as Veterans Day in America – as we all unite in paying our respects to those who sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.

And I am truly humbled and embarrassed that I had been moaning about my too-busy life and not having enough time to write. Those we remember on this day would love to have lived long enough to have such simple problems.

We remember and honor the fallen today, as the tradition says, LEST WE FORGET.

……………………

Rosemary Lord 2017

 

 

 

Where Did I Get That From? Childhood Reading from Across the Pond with Rosemary Lord

Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House! She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now,  English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies. 


WHERE DID I GET THAT FROM? – My Childhood Reading bug…. by Rosemary Lord

Luckily for me, I come from a family that loves reading, loves books.

My dad always had his head in a book: mostly mysteries. Shelves were lined with well-

thumbed Agatha Christie novels, Lesley Charteris’ Simon Templar The Saint books. Dad read George Simenon’s whodunits about Inspector Maigret, in English and in French. From my mum and sister, Angela, came the gateway to a swathe of other adventures.

Johanna Spyri’s Heidi is one of my earliest recollections. Even today, when things get too much, I think back to the grassy Swiss mountainside where young Heidi lived with her grandfather, her best friend was Peter-the-Goatherd and her diet was toasted bread and cheese washed down with milk straight from the goats. Yum!

Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children followed – three children, living alongside a railway track, trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of their father.

It was Enid Blyton’s books about The Famous Five – five young friends who get involved in school-holiday adventures – that got me interested in mysteries, long before I discovered the grown-up Agatha Christie titles.

My brother Ted says that, when he was old enough to join the local library, his Library Card was his proudest possession. “That first Saturday, I was allowed to take out The Secret Island (by Blyton). I dashed home and read it cover-to-cover. Later that afternoon I hurried back to the library to return it and take out another book. The Librarian told me I could only take out one book a day! I was devastated.”

I graduated to one of my sister’s favorite authors, Noel Streatfeild. Ballet Shoes was the first in the tales of three orphaned girls enrolled in a dance academy. Each girl’s dream takes them in different directions. My sister wanted to be a ballet dancer – I harbored secret dreams of being an actress, at that time.


While, on the other side of The Pond, American girls steeped themselves in the adventures of Nancy Drew, I had now discovered Pamela Brown’s book, The Swish of the Curtain. This was a series about seven stage-struck children who form an amateur theatre company. Brown was 16 years old when she finished this, her first novel. Her income from the book paid for her to attend R.A.D.A and become an actress.

It was Brown’s book, Maddy Alone, that took me in a different direction. When a film company arrives in the local town to shoot, Maddy is ‘discovered’ to play a big role in the movie. I then realized that it was movie-acting that I really wanted to pursue.

As a side-line, I loved the rebellious, naughty adventures of Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, and followed her fashion sense: the freckles I had in spades and I liked pigtails and her red-and-white striped stockings.

As I grew older, I raided dad’s Agatha Christie collection, then onto his F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler books. Ah! ‘America here I come,’ was my new song.

With a steady diet of Hollywood Movies on Sunday Matinee on ‘the telly,’ a direction began to emerge.

So I did start out as an actress in England on ‘the telly,’ on stage and in films – amidst 101 boring ‘temp’ jobs. I wrote articles for the English magazines to pay my way, never thinking for one minute that I would ever really be taken seriously as a writer.

I ended up in Hollywood working as an actress for years. At the same time I was writing articles about Old Hollywood, becoming more and more hooked on the history and the mysteries of Tinsel Town. Until I finally became a published author with Los Angeles Then and Now, followed by Hollywood Then and Now. The world of acting was a fading image in my rear-view mirror. Who needs acting!

With the lectures and conferences I attended, I was introduced to an amazing new world of writers. Many were mystery writers. We spoke the same language. They were immediately encouraging, supportive and generous with their knowledge. I began to write mysteries set in Old Hollywood. I finally felt at home.

Today, when I meet up with my family, we still talk books and writers – just as I do with my writer friends here in Los Angeles.

Lucky for me, the seed was planted early in our family. I think we learned to read almost before we were big enough to hold the books.

So, fellow bloggers and dear readers, what are your earliest memories of reading? The first books you read? Which books had the most influence on your growing up – on your life? I’d love to hear the American counterparts of my literary diet.

I Know it was Blue – Thoughts on Organizing Memories by Author Rosemary Lord

Rosemary Lord wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House!
She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.


I Know It Was Blue

I was de-cluttering. Anything to delay writing the next part of my new book. Many writers have clean, tidy fridges for this very same reason…

I was going through an old box of scraps of paper that needed purging. “Cary Grant: 11 am, Tuesday,” I had long ago written on the back of an envelope. As you do.

Then I picked up a tariff from the Hotel Aguadulce in Almeria, Spain. “Yul Brynner – top floor, Charles Bronson, Raquel Welch –” scribbled on the top. A tattered Boarding Pass LA – New York. The name ‘Richard Dreyfuss’ was in pencil. A metro ticket from Paris with Charles Aznavour’s name on it. My souvenirs all told a story.

Goodness, I realized, my writing has taken me all over the place. What fun. In those days I earned my living writing for various magazines, interviewing movie stars (the real sort) and writing about people in the film industry, especially Old Hollywood. A receipt from the Palm Bay Beach Club in Miami was next. Columbia Pictures had flown me there to interview Muhammad Ali and also James “Jimmy” Stewart. Both were making movies in Florida. I had my portable Olivetti typewriter, a small tape-recorder and a passport. ‘Have typewriter – will travel’ was my theme.

I’d forgotten about this part of my life. I remember I was almost always broke, as we were paid peanuts for such interesting work. But you usually got fed. That was a priority. Otherwise I lived on a diet of spaghetti (very cheap) with grated parmesan cheese.

After a while, racing from one appointment to another, running for a train somewhere, the typewriter got left at home. I had created my own short hand in which to hand-write my pieces. I still have the typewriter and a large box of tapes of those interviews. I realize that one day I should attempt to de-clutter these, too. Big sigh. Not sure if I could ever part with them or the stack of well-thumbed notebooks filled with quotes and notes.

Today – I harrumph – journalists have the ease of minuscule, assorted recording devises that even type up the spoken word. But I would not swap my ‘journalistic clutter’ or the memories of those struggles, frustrations, fun, exciting and sometimes dangerous adventures, for anything.

But I digress: the scraps of paper that I should be clearing out. Focus, Rosemary!

You see, I have a habit of writing notes on the nearest things to hand. Paper napkins, paper tablecloths, the most obvious. Old receipts, used envelopes are a favorite, too.

Friends are used to seeing me with an array of paper scraps on my desk as I pull together some semblance of a story or article. (You should see my desk right now. Please, no! At least I have a desk these days.)

I do have a good selection of notebooks – even beautiful, leather-bound books – with pages of eventually published pieces and several yet-to-be published stories. Yet, when my ever-busy mind comes up with another great idea, or a solution to a scene I am writing, the notebooks are not usually close enough. So I dig in my pockets and bags for anything to write on. My challenge is to collect those scraps of literary pearls and to transfer them to the notebooks and ultimately onto my computer – where I can cut-and-paste to my hearts’ content. I am getting much better, but still not efficient enough for my own demands.

Dare I ask my fellow bloggers and readers if they have any similar organizational challenges? Any ‘helpful hints’ are welcome! Or must I remain drowning in a sea of scraps of paper?

I love a quote from the late Professor Randy Pausch’s wise little book, The Last Lecture. Knowing he had not long to live, he wanted to develop a good filing system, in alphabetical order. But his wife, Jai, felt this way too compulsive. He told her:

“Filing in alphabetical order is better than running around and saying, ‘I know it was blue and I know I was eating something when I had it.”

I confess I still spend a lot of my time muttering to myself, “I know it was blue and I was eating something….” Help!!

The Best and Worst of Christmas Presents

All the way back to childhood, this is the season when most of us expect to receive gifts, whether wrapped in green and red for Christmas, blue and silver for Hanukkah, or black, red and green for Kwanzaa. Sometimes those gifts are amazing. Sometimes they are…surprising. And sometimes they are intangible items that can’t be wrapped in paper and bows. We’ve pulled out some of our WinR memories to share with you.

One of the best, or most memorable, Christmas presents I have received was my first Christmas after I moved to Los Angeles from London. I was house-sitting on my own in a half-finished house – just basically one unfinished room – no dry wall yet installed – with a camping-cot. I was also working as a waitress and had the Christmas Day shift. Phone calls home to my mum were VERY expensive in those days, but I spoke briefly to her before I went to work. When I got back, there was a parcel from one of my new-found British friends, who clearly understand my situation. The parcel contained a stack of airmail envelopes, writing paper, pens and international postage stamps (expensive for me) – so I could write to my family in England. Plus…. a bottle of vodka and a bottle of tonic!!! I spent the rest of the day writing letters home – and enjoying a plastic cup of vodka-tonic, no ice.

                                                                
                                                                                         – Rosemary Lord

The worst Christmas gift I ever received was a cookie jar: a big ceramic thing in the shape of a grinning brown bear, given to me by a family friend, a kindly lady who’d known me most of my life.

What’s so awful about that? Well, here’s what happened: I was a newlywed that year, in a low-rent apartment with the world’s smallest kitchen. No room for cookie jars, so I stashed the gift in a closet. I didn’t bake back then anyway—my culinary specialty was spaghetti.

Fast forward several months: my best friend Susie got engaged, and of course I had to get a gift for her bridal shower. Susie was quite the baker, and I thought of that cookie jar, gathering dust in the dark closet. My husband was still in school so we were subsisting, barely, on my tiny salary as a secretary for a small company. Therefore, I thought, it made sense to “re-gift” that cookie jar, which had never been used. Two problems solved: I had little money for a gift, and it seemed a shame to let the cookie jar go to waste.

It would have gone over just fine, except . . . Susie unwrapped the gift and laughed at the smiling bear. Then she lifted the lid. The well-meaning lady who gave me the jar had also given me a bag full of home-made oatmeal cookies, but I didn’t know it because I’d never looked inside the jar. Those cookies had been sitting there, turning to rocks, all that time.

I saw Susie’s bewildered expression as she held up the bag of cookie-rocks, and before I lost my nerve, I snatched the cookies and muttered something about my husband being a practical joker. I’m sure my face was scarlet, but my remark got a laugh at least.

Susie and I are still friends after all these years, and I’m sometimes tempted to ask her if she believed my fib back then. Most days, though, I’d rather not know.

The morals of this story: (1) if you ever recycle a gift, be sure to look inside first. You never know what you might find. (2) when in doubt, blame the husband.


                                                          – Bonnie Schroeder


I can only think of one gift that I knew instantly I would never use. It was a satiny pink blouse with a huge bow at the neck. Not my style, color, or fabric. It was the type matronly ladies wore at the time. I was 27. It made me look like a clown. My brother’s wife had picked it out. It was actually a designer label. She didn’t know my tastes at all since she lived in Ohio and I was in California. But my elderly landlady looked terrific in it. She got two gifts that year.

                                                                         – G.B. Pool


                                                       
I have a huge extended family, and therefore, we pulled names for Christmas. The first year, my uncle, who was my age, forgot about me. That night, when they pulled names, I was forgotten. He came up to me later and gave me twenty bucks! The next year, my aunt, who was in college at the time, forgot me again. She sent me a pair of Saluki sweats that I lived in for the next few years. I loved those sweats, and the twenty bucks came in handy. Sometimes, being forgotten isn’t all that bad.

                                                                        – Jacqueline Vick 


May you all have a wonderful holiday season!

What the Writers in Residence are Grateful for this Thanksgiving


Yes, yes, I am grateful for all the usual stuff – all the stuff we should be grateful for. But I am grateful for Pain and Loss, too. When the Bad Stuff is there, the balance is there, and the balance is what keeps us on an even keel in a world that doesn’t always make sense. 

I am grateful for Pain.

When I was in the Army, the Marines used to tell us that pain was weakness leaving the body. Nice idea, but that only applied to exercise and physical endurance. Real pain, the kind you feel in your body when there is something terribly wrong, is a constant reminder that you are alive and need to do something to alleviate that pain. See a doctor, take your medication, do all you can to feel better so you can really live. Do distracting things, like helping others, to get your mind off any pain that your doctor cannot fix.

Real pain of the other kind, the broken-heart kind, also reminds you that you are alive and human. You only feel that kind of pain when you have a depth of feeling which is in itself a gift. Tears can help you through it, but recognize it for what it is: a common experience which binds us together and reinforces our humanity. Pain shared is pain lessened.

I am also grateful for Loss.

Loss teaches us the value of – and fleeting nature of – all things. All things. Our loved ones, ourselves, our world, everything. How many times must loss teach us the same lesson? Every day we learn it over again. Live each day fully, appreciate each moment, live without regret. Know that Loss will touch you as it touches everyone, so be ready. Live with sincere love and caring every day, and don’t be afraid to show it.

I am grateful for Inconvenience.

Inconvenience is the niggling teacher of patience. A little patience can go a long way in overcoming Pain and Loss, so embrace it as a way to slow down and see the very real wonder of this world.

Moderation is key to appreciating Pain, Loss and Inconvenience. There is nothing at all to be gained from wallowing in them. But remember their useful qualities the next time you must experience them. And be grateful you are able to feel. It means you are alive and human, which is a very good thing.

                                                          Kate Thornton



I’m grateful for so many things, but to me, the “basics” are very important, and are the foundation that enables me to write. Very thankful I was born in The United States of American during this era, with all it offers on every level, have decent health, and people and animals with whom to share love and experiences. It is with that support I am able to write.        
                             Madeline (M.M.) Gornell






I am grateful that I was taught how to read; reading sparked my interest in writing. I often take it for granted, but there are many places in the world where people don’t have this skill. The work of other writers, in all its variety, is one of the best writing teachers in the world.

Bonnie Schroeder

For me, I truly believe that any talent I have to write, whether seriously or tongue-in-cheek is God-given. I’m also thankful for curiosity and nosiness, which helped me as a newspaper writer, and the love of reading which helped me build a good vocabulary.

Jackie Houchin

I am thankful for the rich inheritance I received from my family which includes: a smattering of my father’s witty sarcasm, some of my mother’s artistic talent, my grandfather’s love of history, my grandmother’s stubbornness (when it counts), my Aunt Mollie’s love of writing, and a pinch of sewing prowess from Aunt Dottie. I hope everyone has a few people from whom they learned wonderful things.

Gayle Bartos-Pool






I’m grateful for my husband

                       and family,

                                my friends

                                             and good neighbors.


                                                             Miko Johnston



I am grateful for the ability to be grateful. Many people have gifts and blessings, but they are unable to recognize them. That is what makes Kate Thornton’s post above so beautiful. It’s easy to be grateful for the good stuff, but it takes an open heart to find the redeemable qualities in the poop. Gratitude means getting out from under the weight of entitlement and embracing the fact that I don’t deserve anything, but that the Bon Dieu (as Hercule Poirot would say it) has seen fit to grace me. And then saying Thank You. 

                                      Jacqueline Vick


Goodness, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Where do I start?

Without the friendship and encouragement of my fellow Bloggists (is that a word?) my world would be bleak. We really do laugh together and cry together. They inspire me. Our monthly luncheons are a treasured time to talk of writing, of our home-lives, of cabbages and kings. The time goes by far too fast before we scurry off in our different directions.
I am thankful for the fascinating people and wonderful friends I have made since I found my new life in this ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’


For the amazing adventures life has thrown at me. For the strength and ability to survive.
I am also truly thankful to have my loving family in England. My big sister Annie, my brothers Ted, Phil and Peter, my cousins, nieces and nephews. Although we may be thousands of miles apart, we are very close, speak often and meet up whenever we can – and still giggle together like a bunch of five-year-olds.

I am eternally thankful for the many years I had with my darling Rick, my late husband, who I feel watches over me still. He taught me so much and always helped me to laugh at life’s adversities. I think I am most grateful for the gift of laughter: the ability to laugh with others, to laugh at myself and at life’s absurdities.

And I am most grateful to have this Blog, that gives me the opportunity to formulate and share my thoughts…
                                                           Rosemary Lord

Time Out – To Remember by Rosemary Lord

Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House! She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.




Don’t you sometimes wish you could stop the clocks – just for twenty-four hours – so you could catch up?

How do I get it all done?’ Is my constant cry lately. And most of all – when do I have time to write?

Maybe if I had a different schedule… “I write as soon as I get up and keep going until lunch-time…” I have oft heard from successful writers. But despite setting my alarm for an hour earlier, the early morning is so busy: overnight emails to answer, unexpected phone calls – always someone with an urgent question or a problem, another fire to put out – until I have to leave for the office, where my latest quest is saving and restoring a 110-year-old historic Hollywood, charitable organization that was almost felled by a predatory attempted real estate grab.

I’ll write in the lunch hour…. Who gets a lunch hour these days?

How does one make time to write, when the rest of your life is so distracting? I’m clearly not disciplined enough, as I snatch ten minutes here – a stolen fifteen minutes there and, occasionally a whole hour to write. Bliss!

As I drive to appointments or to the market I write in my head, make hurried notes at my destination. Then I question my intentions. Perhaps I am avoiding writing a Blog piece or completing my next novel. What if it’s not perfect? Not exactly the way I want it. If I don’t complete it – I’ll never know. “C’mon,” I tell myself, “writing has to be your priority. It’s what you love to most in the your life. It’s what you are meant to do…”

I look around for clues and for inspiration from other writers for ways to devote more time to write. I think so many of us these days are facing this same challenge in this busy world. Oh, the books I have in me that need to be written.

My best time to write is at the end of the day, when I’ve taken care of everything else, the phone won’t ring and it’s quiet. But lately, as I sit at the computer, I nod off – and come to about forty minutes later, hands poised over the computer keys. Bum! I’ve just lost most of the precious hour I had intended to use to write. 


That is, until last night, when I opened my bleary eyes from another unintended nap over my computer. I noticed the red poppy on my desk. The red poppy that I had brought back from England from the last “Poppy Day.”

I felt ashamed. I felt like a spoiled brat, bemoaning that I had no time to write, as I

remembered those brave men and women who had no time to think of anything, except their fight to save their country and our world from tyranny. All those ordinary – yet extraordinary – folk who have stood between us and harm’s way throughout the ages. They sacrificed their lives so that we could have the freedom to live on.

In England we call November 11th Remembrance Day, when we remember all those who lost their lives in various conflicts. The Remembrance Poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” written in May 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after he noticed all the red poppies that had grown over the graves where so many soldiers, nurses and others were buried in that far off Belgian field in the first World War.

Since 1919, our fallen ones have been commemorated in England with two minutes silence at the 11th hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. This marks the end of World War One, known as The Great War, in 1918.

Since then, time stands still in Britain for these two minutes. In London, as Big Ben rings the last stroke, traffic comes to a stand-still. Red London buses, black taxi-cabs and delivery vans come to a halt in central London and throughout the country. Pedestrians stop, many bow their heads as a sign of respect for all those who have fallen in conflicts since then. So much is said in that two minutes silence.

In their honor we wear artificial red poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance or Armistice Day – known as Veterans Day in America – as we all unite in paying our respects to those who sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.

And I am truly humbled and embarrassed that I was moaning about not having enough time to write. Those we remember on this day would love to have lived long enough to have such simple problems. We remember and honor the fallen today, as the tradition says, LEST WE FORGET.


Rosemary Lord 2015


Eats, Shoots and Leaves with Rosemary Lord

Rosemary Lord  wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House! She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now,  English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES…                         

Eats, shoots and leaves” – sounds like a newspaper headline. But it was in fact the title of a witty book about sloppy punctuation. Written by Lynne Truss, it became a runaway success in the UK.  The headline at that time was, instead, “Grammar book tops the Bestseller List.” Who’d have thunk it? Truss, an ex-editor, bemoaned the fate of proper punctuation, claiming that it had become an endangered species due to the low standards on the internet, email communication and “txt msgs.”

The phrase, “Eats shoots and leaves” is from a joke about pandas – who eat (bamboo) shoots and leaves – and not, by the simple addition of an errant comma, a comment about a violent criminal act. (Although pandas can give a very nasty bite. No comma needed.)
Or there’s the Australian take on bad punctuation, taught at schools there, as a way of making the students remember the grammatical rules: “Lets eat Grandpa,” has sent many Aussia kids into helpless giggles with such a picture. But it’s not a cannibalistic suggestion, merely the absence of a comma in a sentence that should read:  “Let’s eat, Grandpa.” 
I also love Michael Caine’s interpretation of a line in a script that read,  “What’s that in the road ahead?” By adding a simple dash, Caine had his fellow actors and film crew in fits of laughter when he announced: “What’s that in the road – a head?”
So, no wonder Eats, Shoots and Leaves became so popular. It’s a witty reminder of the lessons we learned at school – but that seem to have vanished in today’s hurried world.
Lately, I find I question myself as I’m writing, because much of what I read today has a different use of grammar from that with which I was raised. And I write the way I was taught. Not that I’m such a grammarian – and I probably could not recite the rules I was taught as a child.  But I know that words and phrases with wrong grammar and punctuation just don’t soundright. Unless you are specifically writing dialogue with a dialect. Then the very miss-spoken words and incorrect grammar are what convey the character of that person. But, again, it’s the sound I listen for. It’s my instinct. Apart from intentional colloquial miss-spoken words, poor grammar and punctuation hurts. I love words and the ability to create something with them. So I don’t like it when people muck it up!
My mother was a writer – of newspaper articles and magazine and radio short stories. Amongst other homilies, she would repeat, “different from – not different than.” “Yes Mum,” I would obediently reply, not understanding what on earth she was talking about. But it stuck in my brain somewhere.
I was always impressed with my husband Rick’s easy recitation of prepositions: “About, above, across, after, below, beneath…” and so on. He was taught that by the nuns in kindergarten – along with all the mathematical tables that he could recite by rote! Unlike I, who dreamed my way through school, Rick appeared to have learned a lot from his excellent education at St. Ambrose, then Loyola High School, followed by years at UCLA. He said his  English teacher explained, “A dove is a bird –” clarifying the past tense of the verb ‘to dive’ is ‘dived” and not “dove” as is often used lately and has become accepted. Every time I hear that, I dutifully mutter, “a dove is a bird…”
As a child, I had no interest in learning about grammar and punctuation. How boring, I thought, as I immersed myself in another book. I could not get enough of reading and writing my ‘little stories.’ Foolishly, I could not see where grammar and punctuation came into it. I was going to live in Hollywood, meet all those Golden Era Movie stars, write and work in HollywoodMovies…. What was I thinking? Now I devour any learning opportunities and wish I had paid more attention. I find books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves, to learn more.
And so I write words as I hear them in my head – and follow my gut instinct, if something feels wrong.
For instance, I was taught never to start a sentence with ‘and’ – and that you never have a comma before the word ‘and.’ However today, ‘the American comma’ as us Colonials call it, (also known as the Serial Comma or even the Oxford Comma!) is rampant and therefore acceptable. Still feels odd to me. But I am willing to entertain these new-fangled ways of writing. I just don’t have to like them. I do, however, like to capitalize words for emphasis: I’m sure there’s a rule about this that I break all the time. And (there – I started a sentence with an ‘and’ – bad girl!) I confess I am addicted to ellipses and dashes….
But I think that if I stick to writing novels and articles about times long gone by, no one will notice – and I can do it my way…

I AM NOT A ROBOT…. by Rosemary Lord

Actress and author Rosemary Lord shares many characteristics in common with her character Lottie Topaz, including an indomitable spirit.  So, when she stepped off a plane from England the other night, her body was exhausted and jet-lagged, but her wit and determination were intact. She brings the Writers in Residence blog her thoughts on a topic that will cause many heads to nod in agreement as they read her latest post. Enjoy!


I AM NOT A ROBOT

Okay, so I have to copy that squirrelly lettering to prove I am a person and not a robot. I can do that. But the rest of all that trickery appearing on my computer leaves me cold. Well, more like frozen with panic.
            I am a writer. I like to write – and have done so since I was about 4 years old. I am most content with a large legal pad or exercise book, a selection of well sharpened pencils and a good eraser. From there I can happily write away the hours.
            So when our fearless WinR techie Jackie Vick sent our group a carefully written explanation of how to participate in the new blog, I almost had a case of the vapors.
            But I gritted my teeth and followed her instructions. And so, in those early days, for 1-2 hours every day I determinedly followed these instructions to the letter, attempting to send a literary contribution. But Google was one step ahead of me. “Not so fast,” it seemed to say. “Password not recognized” and other phrases that stopped me going further, kept popping up on my screen. I did as bid and changed my password so many times that many, many days later, umpteenth new password added, I ran out of ideas and used a rude word. Google was not shocked, and repeated “Password not recognized.”
            I considered chucking my computer through the window, but thought better of it and spoke with Jackie. My new un-techie system is to simply send my words to her and she does the rest.
            But why won’t my brain grasp this new knowledge? Why am I so resistant? Is it just me? Admittedly, my writing is usually of a world one hundred years past: quill pens and an abacus. Ah, that’s what I need – a quill pen and an abacus.  But I seem to have developed an allergy to this brazen new world of MAC versus PC, Twitters and Blogs, Excel Spreadsheets, Quick Books, Drop-Box and such.
            Now if one is writing a journalist piece with photographs, I can understand all that trickery. And I can actually do that stuff, too, from my journalism days. But it’s the submitting bits of text and the passwords and not really knowing how to get it there. And “what ever happened to that page I just spent 2 hours writing, that has now vanished from the screen?” that stumps me.
            Now I’m not a stupid person. In fact I have several GCEs and other clever things from my English Education at Tiffin’s Girls’ School (consistently in the top 3 best schools in England, my family remind me) to prove it – sort of. So I can’t be that stupid. But it’s all this new techie stuff that is my down-fall.
            “It’s simple,” my 18 year old Australian friend Maddi tells me as she taps away on my i-pad. “There: done,” she hands it back to me – and I am none the wiser. So I feel that I’ve become really stupid… “You’re thinking too hard,” Maddi tells me. “Don’t try to work it out – just do it.” Easy to say.
            But then, when I start writing about Hollywood one hundred years ago, or trotting out facts about my travels in various countries and my adventures through the years, I comfort myself with the recognition that I can do some things. Plenty of things. Just not the techie stuff. I really am not a robot – thank goodness…


Finding a Writer’s World by Rosemary Lord

      
Someone recently asked me: “My friend just moved to L.A. and wants to be a science-fiction writer. Where would she meet other science fiction writers?”  Hmmm.
It made me think: we write alone. Writing is such an isolated profession – it can be a lonely world. So how did I end up with such a terrific, diverse group of writer friends? I also have an endless source of answers to my literary questions – and heartfelt encouragement and feedback when I get ‘The Writer Blues.’
I had been a journalist for many years, specializing in Old Hollywood. So my world was the Old Time Movie Stars, their publicists and the movie studios. What did I know about fiction writing?  The heady world of mystery writers, from P.D. James, Agatha Christie, to Michael Connolly and Lee Childs, was something for the privileged, really grown-up writers. How could I ever be part of that circle? Where would I start?
Then I came across a slim volume titled, Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See. I learned it’s not just about the writing, but being part of the writer’s world. Beyond the basic tenet of  writing a certain number of words each day, See suggests seeking out and supporting other writers. If you want to be a novelist, then support other novelists.  Write a charming note to at least one author a week.( Just acknowledge their work. Don’t ask for their help.) Attend at least one writer’s book signing or event each week. This way you meet published writers and can ask them questions. This is how I met all sorts of writers, readers and people in the publishing world. I learned a lot and made new friends and acquaintances in the writing spheres.
I learned about the best writing classes for my needs. I took novel and mystery writing courses at UCLA, where I made more friends. There I learned about different writer’s groups and joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime-LA. These all have local chapters. If it’s Science Fiction or Romance novels, there’s a group you can find with the same interests. Once I looked beyond my typewriter (this was pre-computers) I found I was now part of a writer’s domain. Heady indeed!
Writers are amazing. They have curious minds. You need that in writing fiction, to create realms different from your own. They are supportive and encouraging to new writers.  We hang out together, drink lots of coffee (or something stronger), complain about our problem areas of our latest writing projects, ask questions or offer advice. I attend lectures, writers’ lunches, conferences, book-signings and launch parties. I have made friends in all areas of the literary and publishing world, and continue to learn from them.
I am now writing mysteries set in the Hollywoodof the 1920s: The Lottie Topaz Hollywood Mysteries. But I can write anywhere, thanks to computers.  And thanks to Skype and Face Book, writers no longer have to feel alone or isolated – unless that’s what they want.   So there is a way in from the outside. I came in from the cold…and into a writer’s world. 

Interview with Rosemary Lord

We are pleased to present WinR Rosemary Lord. Rosemary is an author, actress and is involved in issues benefiting Hollywood women and preservation. She is the author of several best-selling nonfiction books as well as a new mystery novel, “Lottie”. Welcome Rosemary!

What led an actress and best-selling non-fiction author to write a mystery?

During my years as an actress, I had often done bits of journalism as a way to pay bills between acting gigs. In England I would write interviews with some of the actors I was working with: Glenda Jackson, Marty Feldman, Spike Milligan, George Segal and so on. I wrote for the teenage magazines in the UK, such as Petticoat, Mirabelle, Jackie, and then progressed to women’s mags like Woman, Woma’s Journal etc.

When I came to America and was waiting for my Green Card, I did loads of journalism for these same magazines and American ones such as Coronet, Field Newspapers, Atlantic Review and so on. I wrote a “Letter From Hollywood” column and interviewed many of the old-time actors and film makers such as Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Shaw, Glenn Ford, James Stewart, Edith Head, John Huston and so on.

Although my acting career progressed and kept me busy, I still loved history and the Old Hollywood. And so years down the line, when the opportunity came to write my first book, Los Angeles Then and Now, I jumped at the chance. Then came Hollywood Then and Now, in which I got to write about the people as well as the place.

I was starting another non-fiction book on Hollywood history and talking about it to a writer friend, Jacqueline Winspear, of the successful MAISIE DOBBS novels. She pointed out that as I found those olden days so intriguing, why didn’t I write a murder mystery set in Old Hollywood? I explained that I wouldn’t know where to begin with writing a mystery. And she said that she had not set out to write a mystery when she started writing MAISIE DOBBS. So with that encouragement, all the little pieces of stories that had been running round inside my brain, began to knit together.

You’ve recently put the final touches on your historical mystery. Can you tell us a bit about the plot and central character?

So the novel I have now finished is set in 1920s Hollywood, during the Silent Era. It was inspired from reading so many old documents I had uncovered in researching my non-fiction books. Because it is set during Prohibition, there was a lot of corruption going on, of course, but people’s behavior was still very controlled and strict. Which is why the new Movie folk in Hollywood were considered wicked and immoral. And any girls working in this industry were considered ‘loose women.’ So this is the world my young heroine, Lottie, struggles with. And because she is from England and had lived through World War I, it was like living in Paradise for her to move to sunny California, where oranges grew everywhere and she has the opportunity to work in “flickers.” And, yes, there is a murder. But other than that, I’m not saying more at this point!

How did you research old-time Hollywood?

Apart from the research that I already had from my previous books, with authenticated documents I had studied, the 1920s were a time when my mum and her sister had been working in the theatre. They were dancers from early childhood, heavily chaperoned, and had travelled all over England, France and Morocco and other exotic places. They had a “Bluebird” dancing act! And they had appeared in shows with Maurice Chevalier and many other entertainers of that era.

My mum LOVED Hollywood and always wanted to come here to work. So she subscribed to Hollywood Fan Magazines and watched the silent movies – her favorites were Clara Bow and Theda Bara – and tried to copy their make-up and fashions. I have been able to use so much of what she had told me about her young years for my heroine. And my mum was a great reader: always talking about “Aggie Christie” and her stories. And once Mum was married and had all of us kids and so no longer was a dancer, she became a writer. She used to write some of the fifteen minute “Morning Mysteries,” for BBC Radio and “Mystery At Midnight,” for Capitol Radio in England.

Also my Dad, who was in the Royal Navy, had been to Hollywood during Prohibition. And I loved to hear him talk about the speakeasies and how he had met Jean Harlow and danced with Anita Page! And my Grandpa, on my Dad’s side, was a Detective in Bristol, England. (My Dad was in the same class as Cary Grant – then Archibald Leach – at Primary School.) So I think my curiosity and questioning that my characters have, must have been channeled from him.

These days, people are popping their own homemade movies on the interenet without a thought. What methods did you employ to make the early days of filmmaking seem fresh and exciting to your readers?

I think that one of the problems with entertainment today, is that all of these “How it was made” shows take all the mystique out of movies. Many people today think that they can make movies or write a Best Seller without having to learn how, because they have learned a few trade secrets. That’s why I love films like “Cinema Paradiso,” in which we were transported back to the days of the primitive censorship of removing THE KISSES(!) from those wonderful movies. And the challenge of bicycling from one village to another with the next film reel, so the audience can see the end of the movie. That is the magic of a simpler life.

And in my novel, I have tried to bring my readers into that early time when the audience heard no dialogue – so the director was talking all the way through the scene, and the noise from the stage next to them would spill over. But the audience would use their own imagination far more than today. Today, all the details are filled in for them. In those early days, they were still working out how to produce special effects and perform stunts. And there many dreadful injuries, some fatal, because the actors were not considered too valuable. They could always be replaced! And they would work 18 hour days, in horrible conditions – but be thrilled to have a job. I loved inhabiting that simpler and more appreciative world.

You are also the author of the best-selling non-fiction book, Hollywood, Then and Now. What differences did you find in writing a non-fiction book on Hollywood and a fictional account of the industry?

The difference with writing fiction, after my non-fiction books, is that now I have the opportunity to color things. I can take actual happenings and change the people involved, fictionalize them, and hook them into another real life incident and come up with a wonderful “What if…” moment. But on the other side of it, having all that rich research at my fingertips, I hope that I can have the readers feel the integrity and authenticity of the people and situations from times gone by.

As an actress who has worked on well-loved shows such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “Dr. Who” and who has acted with greats like Sir Anthony Hopkins, tell us how acting informs your writing? Does it help? Or is it a hinderence? Would you recommend that writers take a beginning acting class or improv class?

As an actress I have been fortunate to work with some terrific actors over the years. In England it was not so much the Star System you have here, so actors may play the lead one week and the next time they would have one line. You all learned to “muck in together.” I had a bit part in the film of “Alice in Wonderland” and was in the same scene as Dame Flora Robson, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Sir Michael Horden, Michael Crawford and a host of others in a lengthy Court Room scene that we worked on for many, many days. (I was the Chief Clerk of the Court in a Parrot costume!) But it was fascinating watching these great actors interact. And they were all considerate, humble and hysterically funny. And, as a writer, I find my acting experience helps so much with my characters, as they all have these different voices that I seem to channel! Anyone watching me write would think I should be in a loony bin, as I argue out loud back and forth in different dialects!

As an actress, are you tempted to write a script or a play?

I have written scripts years ago. I wrote a sitcom set in present day Hollywood, that the head of BBC Comedy ‘sat on’ for a couple of years, telling me how great it was. But then he got fired… And my husband, Rick and I wrote a docudrama script for a PBS series many years ago. But I must confess, I much prefer the world of novelists. Novelists – and especially Mystery novelists – are the greatest people in the world. They are encouraging, supportive and have such curious minds and great senses of humor! Script writers – like actors – seem so competitive and age conscious! It appears to be a crime to be a script writer or an actor once you reach forty years old! But novelists – well they are smart enough to go on for ever.

What’s next for you?

And so now I am going to catch up on my reading. I have a stack of novels I am anxious to read – and clearing out my office. I am wishing for the Clutter Clearing Fairy to appear on my doorstep. And then I shall start on my next book in this series. For now I have to deal with the coming of sound – of “Talkers”….!