Where’s The Age Diversity In Books?

Where’s The Age Diversity In Books?

Why aren’t there more books with mature characters? Not just the token grandmother, but main characters, heros, if you will, who are retired. Most bestsellers have young people as their main characters. Now, that isn’t too surprising if you’re writing about Jason Bourne. To do what he does, you need to be young and in superb physical condition. But not all stories are about secret agents/assassins.

No matter what your age, you still face the same challenges as your younger counterparts. Love, family, money, health, fulfillment: these subjects are not the exclusive property of people under 40, but with few exceptions, books and movies have you thinking life ends at retirement. One exception I particularly enjoyed was Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, both the movie and book. Most of the characters were seniors, and it was delightful to see them facing and overcoming problems with ingenuity, humor and courage.

One of the most frequent comments my readers make about Autumn In The Desert is that they are thrilled to finally see characters their own age who aren’t stereotypes. I believe there is a huge untapped pool of readers out there who would love to see more books written about seniors, that reflect the truth that age does not automatically put one beyond romance or a desire to live a happy, fulfilled life. The problems we face as mature adults have interesting twists to them, and I like reading and writing about them.

What’s your age group? Do you enjoy movies and books with seniors in key roles? Please comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.

An Author Is Revealed In Her Writing

An Author Is Revealed In Her Writing

I love to read, always have. I am sure my love of reading is part of the reason I love to write. Reading stories was a great escape for me as a kid and a way to entertain myself that cost no money. I have continued to be an avid reader throughout the years. I read both fiction and nonfiction, and I enjoy reading most genres. I am always thrilled when I find a new author I like who has written a ton of books. I gobble up every one of them. Heaven!

If you read many books by one author, you are going to get to know the author, because the stories an author writes come from within herself. The world she creates and the characters that populate it are all projected from the viewpoint of her experience and beliefs. I think that’s because it’s hard to write a good story using a viewpoint that is vastly different from your own.

When you read a book–like so many modern ones–that is filled with depressed, disaffected and evil people, you know that the writer sees the world that way. I personally find it hard to like books that have not one single character I can identify with (not being depressed, disaffected or evil). It’s not that I think such characters should not appear in a story; I just feel that a story is more fulfilling if it uplifts one. Even if there is only one character who strives for something better, that’s enough. But you see, that attitude is a reflection of my viewpoint and how I see the world. And technically, my viewpoint isn’t any more valid than anyone else’s. I’m the person who went to the movies to see The Deer Hunter, walked out of the theater shell-shocked afterward and went straight into a screening of Superman to get a dose of positivity. I tend to ‘pick up’ negativity and need to avoid too much exposure. I’m curious to know if my readers have similar preferences.

But getting back to how a writer’s work reflects a lot about their personality and outlook, have you noticed that to be the case? For example, can you guess about how Lee Child and Nelson DeMille feel about women and relationships by reading their works? Now that book 2 of my Autumn In The Desert series is out, I realize I populate my books with a preponderance of certain types of people. The reason for that is, all my characters eventually come from me, and they all will reflect who I am, and it’s easier for me to write what I know, as it is for all authors. Can you tell about me from reading my books? Feel free to post in the Comments below. I’ll try to be honest and reply. No nasty comments, please!

Do You Read “Romance” Novels?

Do You Read “Romance” Novels?

I have eclectic reading tastes. I read just about any genre except horror. I try to judge a book based on its own merits rather than its category. But I have to admit that the traditional “Romance” category triggers judgment in me.

I’m not saying I never read books in that category. I have read historical romances and paranormal romances and other types of romances. In my opinion, romance can make a story sizzle. But a lot of romance books are shells that have cookie-cutter characters and predictable plots that exist mainly for the sex scenes. I find such books tiring.

Granted, sex can be pretty stimulating, but when I read, I want a story that grabs me and characters who seem real and a believable plot. I don’t feel turned off if there is sex in the book, but it needs to be just one part of the story and not be the sole reason for the book.

Apparently, there is a BIG market for women who read these books. I guess their sex lives are pretty boring, and romance novels are like porn for women. Soft porn, but still pandering solely to sexual appetites. And while I don’t judge people for reading such books, I don’t really want readers to think my book falls into that category.

So when I wrote my “Autumn In The Desert” series, I was loath to put it in a Romance category, yet there isn’t another category that fits. There is an element of romance for sure in my stories. And sex happens, because it’s a part of life. But as an author, I’m not into writing steamy sex scenes. It just isn’t my thing. My stories are about real people and their entire life situations, not just their sex lives.

I wish there were a Boomer Fiction category or anything that wouldn’t misrepresent my stories. “Contemporary Romance” is about the best I can do. That and “Women’s Fiction,” which to me sounds like a literary equivalent of the junk drawer most of us have in our kitchen. I just cross my fingers and hope.

Do you read romance novels? Would you be turned off from reading my book because it’s in that category? Or would you buy it and then be disappointed that it isn’t filled with steamy sex scenes? And what the heck do you think constitutes “Women’s Fiction?” Please comment below. I’m interested in your point of view.

What Is “Boomer Women’s Fiction”?

What Is “Boomer Women’s Fiction”?

Boomer Women’s Fiction has arrived. There’s a growing trend in the indie author field of writing for mature adults, or ‘Boomers,’ as they are sometimes called. There may be a number of reasons for this. It’s probably true that a greater percentage of older folks read than younger folks. And mature adults might have more discretionary income than younger folks.

Of course, that doesn’t explain the explosion in the Young Adult category. Books for young adults are taking the publishing world by storm. They are often being made into movies. Could Boomer Women’s Fiction be the next big trend? I think it could.

Sadly, most booksellers don’t even have a category for mature adult fiction. My novel “Renaissance” had to be put in the Contemporary Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance categories, even though it didn’t really fit either. That makes it hard to find my market. I’m interested in connecting with readers who are 50+ and spend time thinking about how to make sense of their lives, how to find happiness and how to grow, even though they are no longer ‘young.’ I believe we can rewrite the endings of our lives at any time. Life isn’t over just because you reach a certain age. I want to inspire people to go after their dreams and make positive changes knowing that each day is the beginning of a new life.

On Goodreads, there are some groups and discussions about Boomer fiction. What I’ve learned is that even among authors, there is no agreed definition of this category. Many authors feel that if they are writing about the 60s and 70s, that is Boomer fiction. To me, it’s more like coming-of-age fiction, and it doesn’t require a new category. I think Boomer fiction should include stories like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” The stories should be about retired or nearly-retired people and the challenges they face and how they overcome them. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂

I see my market as people who are 50 or older, both men and women, though I’ve found women tend to be more involved in thinking about personal growth and making changes in their lives. I tell people my “Autumn In The Desert” series is comfort reading for women and a few smart men.

Are you in my market? What do you like to read that you would consider ‘Boomer Women’s Fiction’? Do you think there is a market for that type of story? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Inspiration Or Intuition?

Inspiration Or Intuition?

A common question people ask authors is “How did you decide to write about that?” The answer isn’t always easy.

Some years ago, Nigel and I started writing nonfiction books about dowsing, a subject we are passionate about; a topic on which we are authorities. The mild success of those books led to the inevitable glimmer of hope that maybe we could successfully write fiction, too. But how do you decide what to write about?

I started a novel a few years ago on a science fiction/fantasy type subject, one that I am really interested in and believe could be a great story, but it got stalled as life took over. It is now sitting in a Scrivener file of 80,000 words, awaiting my attention.

When I renewed my commitment to writing in late 2014, I asked the Universe what I should be writing about that would be of interest to readers, rather than just what I really wanted to write about. The point being, if you want to be successful as a writer, you need to write what readers want to read.

The answer came into my head one morning as if by injection. I saw myself writing about a retirement community, and how life doesn’t end at retirement. It could be an uplifting story of the potential for happiness at any age, if you are just willing to be courageous and take action. Perhaps I was inspired to write the Autumn In The Desert series by looking at my own choices and experiences as someone over 55. I certainly changed my life dramatically as I neared my 50th birthday.

On the other hand, intuition seems to have played a part because of the way the answer came to me, not through my mental processes, but like a bolt from the blue. That’s how I can tell intuition from rational thinking; it isn’t stepwise and logical. It appears fully formed in my head, as if someone else gave it to me.

Regardless of how the idea came to me, I feel good about writing a story that hopefully will encourage readers to believe in love, to choose what will make them happy, and to be willing to make big changes to create a great life in their golden years. Life’s challenges don’t go away as we age; they intensify, giving us chances to rewrite our story. Autumn In The Desert is a series about people who rewrite their life stories; people who don’t; and it gives the reader a chance to decide which camp she’s in.