Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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If the Jack-O-Lantern Is Rockin’…Please Come Knockin’

All Hallows Eve

All Hallows Eve

I love Halloween. Ghouls and tools. The spirit world. Ghosts and spooky goblin like stuff. The season, the chill in the air, the candy, the candy, Snicker Bars, the candy, Heath bars, candy corn and the candy. But since I don’t want diabetes in my future, I guess relishing the autumn chill and hanging at home with the lights down low and pumpkins all alight will do the trick.

But as we draw closer to Halloween, I think I’m done with my book. This week has been so insanely productive, I feel like I’m existing on some kind of drug. You know– the feeling of dipping into this creative well that comes from nowhere – and you just create and create without judgement? That’s how it’s been for me so far this week. I had Jury Duty yesterday, and the entire day was filled with writing outlines and projects – ideas for my next novel (a sci-fi satire – along the lines of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), plus plotting out a business plan to keep my writing going while beginning to work on the prospect of being a writing coach. (I was never called on a panel, so the wait time gave me this lovely day of going gangbusters in my notebook.)

So, as the trick or treaters knock on my door, as November 1st rolls around, heading closer to my self imposed deadline, I’m a happy camper.

Now pass me a Snickers.


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LA Superior Court, The Big Chair

Screenshot 2014-10-29 18.26.05I was on jury duty today. It’s my first one since moving to Los Angeles. And much like the only other time I’ve ever done service (in NYC), I was let go without a voir dire. No problemo!  The only problem is I cannot STAND going to downtown Los Angeles because I always get lost – and lost I did – both ways. When coming back, I made an even worse turn that had me heading for Long Beach.

Anyway – there’s a big, giant chair in the parking lot across the street of the LA Superior Courthouse. It reminds me of the electric chair, so I found it rather odd. But I’m sure there’s something behind it…or someone’s big behind on it.

Got a lot of writing done, plus worked on ideas for my next book, which I’ve already started. Just need an outline to flesh it out.

Meanwhile…”Hitting Water” is slowly but surely getting there.  Book cover is looking great, and the manuscript is done. I’m just tweaking the introduction – which is currently long winded.

So tired today…so very tired – but feeling great!


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Hollywood Forever

cemetery beautyWith Halloween just a few days away, thoughts turn to the dead. And when I turn to the dead, I look no further than the backyard of Paramount Studios over at our friendly neighbor The Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s the final resting place for Hollywood legends and entertainers alike. The vacated remains of Cecil B. DeMille, Don Adams, Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Mickey Rooney, Dee Dee Ramone (“I gotta go now…”) and Johnny Ramone. Apparently, Morrissey wants to be buried there.  I spent a lunch hour several months ago walking through the grounds.  I marveled at the mausoleum filled with dead actors with jaunty epitaphs. “Leave me alone, I’m sleeping” (Joan Hackett) and felt the chill given off by the very solid marble walls were everyone is interred. Not to be disrespective, but considering the lives that were once lead, laying behind those walls – well, there must be a hell of a party going on in there.

As I wandered around this strange and final resting place, an overwhelming sense of sadness came over me. It permeated the air. Perhaps I’m sensitive to it, but I could feel the sorrow of families and the many people who’ve come here to say goodbye. Perhaps I was feeling the melancholia of those who lay in graves below? There were so many of them. And not only famous people. A large Russian community exists in Los Angeles. When their loved one dies, they bring them to Hollywood Forever. Stacks and stacks of graves stones with ghostly in scripted likeness of their grandmothers and grandfathers, uncles and aunts. Some were young a pretty, others were dour and a little frightening. Their faces rise one above the other like a sea of ghosts. Russian. Many who look like Bresniv. Hopefully, they all rest in peace – and not get too bothered by the movies and concerts that are given on the grounds.

 

I'm ready for my close up. Guess I'm too late.

I’m ready for my close up. Guess I’m too late.

 

And speaking of party – there ain’t no party like a Day of the Dead party ’cause the Día de Muertos party don’t stop – until November 1st ends. The day after Halloween is the Day of the Dead, a major holiday that takes place more here on the west coast, me thinks. I can’t recall ever doing it up that mightily in New York since the Mexican population isn’t as big as it is here. Dia de Muertos is a gorgeous, spooky, creepy celebration – the Hollywood Forever is the place to be for people with painted skeleton faces. Me? I’ll be at home recovering from my Snickers induced coma.

Dia de Muertos

Dia de Muertos

Even though the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is right behind the place where I work, it’s unlikely I will spend my lunch hours dwelling within the crowded grounds, marked with mostly Russian gravestones with engraved faces peering at me disdainfully as if I don’t belong. (Not yet, anyway – but I’m not going to be buried – I’m going to be cremated and have my ashes scattered in the same bay in Sag Harbor where we laid my parents ashes. No dark, creepy cemetery for eternity for this moi).  The place was peaceful but disturbing. As much as I love the macabre and the sweet, strange morbidity of death, trodding around these grounds made me feel disrespectful. And very sad.

Screenshot 2014-10-28 21.07.33


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‘Hitting Water’ on a Manic Monday Night

hittingwaterFiverrMockUpI’m writing this blog post in a blur, practically on autopilot, and it might not make sense…. But here goes!

So the process continues!  I’m really excited. My book is getting to the marketing stages – prepping for the publication with Amazon, and I’m learning the hell out of this business. The craziness lies in my day job – which has just recently had a re-organization, so things are getting super busy. Juggling new responsibilities and trying to bring out the theme and subtext of my short stories to a marketing expert at Createspace (which is the platform that brings a self publisher’s book to Amazon and the world) so she can write a back cover blurb, categorize the book for search engines, devise snazzy ways to make me interesting to the passing Amazon buyer.

The cover above is just another mock up. A really wonderful artist from the UK I found via Fiverr.com put this together using the photo I selected, and it looks awesome!  The only thing is – during the time it took for her to do it (where there was radio silence and I kind of thought I just threw away $30.00) I found another really terrific artist who is pulling it together, along with formatting the interior of my book. I also trimmed the name of my book to “Hitting Water”.  So, although the photo will be the same – the titling should be different.  How about the color?  I was thinking of making the sky blue maintaining the sepia in the water, diver and rock.

I’d love your input!  Please comment!

 


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Paying Respect to the Week That’s Just Past

statuewithweb

Friends of WordPress and “Order of the Good Write”, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to the week that’s just past.  Monday through Thursday has bit the big one, kicked the bucket – forever gone into the netherworld where it will remain a memory. Friday is upon us, her head bowed down low. Her vodka chilling in the fridge. On yonder, martini. Full of grace, dear olives.

Think about the week that leaves us. Did you enjoy it? Did you pay your bills and kiss the wife or husband? Did you love? Did you hate? Did you get stuck in traffic and come into work late?  Nevermind, my friends. Our great reward – the weekend – is here, and you will shed the ties that hold you down to your cubicle. You can now shut off your alarm clock … until Sunday night.

But first…

Saturday will come and you will sleep in later than usual. Or maybe you’ll wake up early because that’s what you like to do. The kids may have a soccer game, or the mother in law is coming to town. Sunday will see you at the great Farmer’s Market where heavenly seasonal pumpkins can be bought, brought home, and stabbed with the very knife you purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond with that 20% coupon, to carve out faces of jack-o-lanterns and scary cats with arched backs. Then there’s the World Series and football to be watched. Some will be glued to the beauty of the sport. Others will curse their spouses and claim they are being ignored. But nevermind.

We put off our thoughts to the great beyond…what lies ahead of Sunday in the big unknown  we call “next week”. But the inevitable thoughts will creep in on what Monday will bring. Some will have meetings that will test their blood pressure.  Maybe others will be backed up in traffic because three truck drivers who can’t operate a can opener much less a frigging vehicle – just caused an accident on Melrose and LaBrea. Will you enter a Ralphs (A&P, StopNShop)  parking lot and find an open space? Will your car fit? Or will someone have parked all wonky over the parking lines, cramping the one and only fucking parking space that will fit a Prius C?

Ah friends…when a week ends, we must wave it goodbye, throw holy water on its grave and move on into the great big weekend in the sky. We live in hope  that when Monday comes, we won’t find ourselves in hell.  Especially if you have jury duty – like I do.


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Hummingbird

"For poppo. Thank you to the incomparable @dr_woo_ssc for so beautifully bringing my reminders to life. I'll always put my hand out to shake with a smile." Zelda Williams on Instagram

“For poppo. Thank you to the incomparable @dr_woo_ssc for so beautifully bringing my reminders to life. I’ll always put my hand out to shake with a smile.” Zelda Williams on Instagram

I was always a daddy’s girl.  I’ve written often about my memories of him. So, when a beloved talent passes away, there is something about love of his child who pays tribute to their father that gets me right in the guts. (Dhani Harrison, Rosanne Cash to name two). So, this tribute from Zelda Williams is staggering in its symbolism and beauty. It hits the mark hard for me. A very personal tribute, and it’s perfection.


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Maybe It’s Mercury in Retrograde?

MercuryMaybe it’s because Mercury is in retrograde?

I’m in the final stages of getting my book out; yet, I feel like I’m swimming in mud, slowly churning things out – procrastinating on the massive action I need to make this book happen.

I’m mildly into astrology. Not the daily Horoscope you read in the tabloids or online. No. I believe in it on a larger scale. Planets align causing various degrees of energy fields and forceful pulls. Who are we to say that this isn’t connected to a scientific cause in our make up or the way our week is going? After all, the moon has such a pull on us as proven by tides on the shore. Full moons cause certain moon swings and strange feelings. The invisible waves of energy must mean something. After all, Earth turns in a force field that prevents it from hurling into space like a speeding ball of blue water and clouds.

Sometimes when I feel this strange undertow of fear or reticence, I’d like to take the burden off my own self inflicted actions and blame it on the stars.

However, I can be lazy. And what causes that laziness? Fear.  A flurry of questions stir up. Does this book read well to other people? (I have a few friends who’ve read it – haven’t given it to beta readers because I was concerned the criticism would deter me.) Will there be typos I don’t see? When I changed the name of certain characters, did I replace each mention of the name with the new one? Worry. I almost feel as though I carry this British trait of embarrassment, as I send off these stories I created over the course of the year.

“Um, excuse me. Sorry to bother. But, I wrote this little book, you see. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. But I’d really like you to,” I whisper politely has I bid you adieu as I huddle in the corner.

But no.  This is silly. I’m proud to get this book out there. It’s just that there is much, so much to be done. And I don’t know where to start.

Oh, and I’ve officially entitled my book “Hitting Water: A Book of Stories”. A little change that feels better to me.

So you can see – things are ever changing. I just need to know when to stop tinkering and just let go.

Perhaps I should have faith in the stars?

 


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Book Cover, All Covered

bookcovers

Even though the digital world has given us Kindle and iBook apps, I still do love to read actual books.  You know what I mean – tangible books with paper you feel and pages you turn. Paper that has the lovely smell of knowledge and stories,  tinged with the musty comforting fragrance of a library. Yes -books. And as a book reader who has mulled over the aisle of many Barnes and Nobles, I am captivated by the lure of a great book cover. The old adage “Never judge a book…”? Well, I do. To me, the cover is part of the package. The photo or design usually expresses a subtext undertone of the book’s story, giving the potential reader a feel for the mood. Surrealism always entices me, and it seems the literary world knows how to use dreamy imagery well since I find stacks of book on my shelves dressed up with sepia toned oceans, blue hued dreamy roads to nowhere, pithy minimalistic cocktail glasses in the middle of a spill, suspended in mid-air. I’m still trying to understand the imagery of David Sedaris’ “Barrel Fever” with two guys sticking in hats sticking their tongues out the reader. But no matter – I find it whimsical, playful, iconoclastic – very much like the contents inside.

So, as a self publishing author, I’ve found it important to know what my book is about before getting to the cover.  I’m very visual, and no ordinary photo will do.  So, I finally found the perfect photo off Shutterstock, but the dpi and the various elements in the shot were difficult to maneuver, that is – until I found an actual, affordable book cover artist who’s on the same page, and was able to make the cover into what I wanted – with all requirements included. This is such a relief. My self imposed deadline is approaches. My manuscript finished, with the exception of trying to come up with an introduction and blurb. But I find it so hard to promote myself. It seems that when I’m about to reach the precipice of accomplishment, I slow down -like I don’t want it all at once.

I’m also in the self doubt phase. My book is entitled “Hitting the Water” – but should I have just called it “Hitting Water”? Would that have been snazzier? Too late now since I’ve already received an ISBN. More questions. More answers. More self doubts. More ways to get past them.  And as much as I love physical books, I plan on having my book available for Kindle in addition to a real book.  The best of both worlds.

More to come!


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Attack of the Killer Pigs

cheaper by the dozen house on LorraineJust your average, ordinary neighborhood, where lovely palatial homes with perfectly manicured lawns stretch out to a perfectly maintained sidewalk. If you’ve ever seen the film “Cheaper By the Dozen” with Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin, this is the house where it was filmed. It’s a few blocks from where I live, and it seems to house a family that is just as boisterous and charismatic as the family in the movie. The kids are between thirteen and seven – all freckle faced and gregarious. Their driveway is parked up with all-terrain vehicles with back hatch bike racks and shiny BMW’s. Nice folks, too. And yes – apparently there is really a pig somewhere on the property. While walking by the white picket fence toward the back part of the house, you’ll hear the low guttural grunts of a porcine piggy. Or – so they say. I usually hear a dog, barking angrily at my hound who just whines and trots away in fear.

And another thought… I was watching this clip from The Fisher King. It suddenly occurred to me that the progress in digital technology has rendered the old video store obsolete. Yes, I’m sure there are some video shops hanging onto the old school love of a video (that is – if anyone still has an operating VHS machine, and I’m sure there are folks who do). So, with the Blockbusters and Mom & Pop shops now turned into dry cleaners or a Whole Foods, what happens to the life-long card carrying members of that dusty old Video Shack? Is a life long membership applicable to the life of the member, or the life of the shop. Details. I bet it’s in the small print on the back of the card.

Lovely scene. Beautiful movie. You didn’t think I could go a week without a Robin Williams moment, did you?