Book vs. Movie

Book vs. Movie

We recently went to the theater to see the movie Book Club. Have you seen it?  We enjoyed it tremendously. The acting was superb, the writing was above average, we had a lot of laughs and the message was upbeat for people our age. What more could you ask?

Why aren’t there more movies like that for people our age? For that matter, why aren’t there more books like that for people our age?

When Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came out, we loved it. The sequel wasn’t as good, but it was still fun to watch. I liked the original so much that I got the book and read it. The book on which the movie is based was a bit darker, but as with good books in general, it was able to go into far greater depth on its subject. I have always felt that if forced to choose between a good book and a good movie, the book is usually the better way to tell the story. How about you?

Don’t get me wrong. I love going to see the next Mission Impossible movie, but probably would not read a book on which those movies are based. For us, those kinds of movies are a great escape and fun time. We don’t expect realism. In fact, maybe we don’t want realism. We just want to be entertained. But when telling a story that supposedly reflects real life, we want believable characters and story lines.

Book Club was a fun movie, and I’d be happy to see it again, but like most movies, it couldn’t plumb the depths of life after retirement. It chose one subject and presented it well, but so many others were glossed over, probably because they are depressing. Yet, in a book, you have time to tell a more complex story and find a way to resolve problems. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was better that way, as it dealt with death, finances, love and health, not just sex and relationships. But that, to me, is the difference between a book and a movie, and it is rare that a movie translates into a rich, multi-layered story.

If you like my Autumn In The Desert series, you’ll probably like the movies Book Club and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I’d love to hear what you think of them, and how you feel about books vs. movies. Please comment below.

What Do You Think Of Retirement Communities?

What Do You Think Of Retirement Communities?

Is Age Restriction A Plus Or A Minus?

Back in the 1990s, I lived in a retirement community in Arizona. It was the one my parents had moved to years before, and I’d enjoyed visiting them each year and dreamed of living there. I loved the warm weather, the sunshine, how neat the community was, the southwestern flavor of the newer home designs. I especially liked the tropical plants, because they promised a life without winter.

The outward look of the place was delightful to me, but after living there, I did notice drawbacks. Maybe they weren’t all about the age restrictions, but some were. Children were a rarity, and since they visited mostly in summer, you didn’t see them outside a lot in the blistering heat and punishing sun. I realized that everyone looked old. I was in my forties at the time, probably one of the youngest residents thanks to my husband being much older than I was. I’d always liked being around older people, perhaps partly because growing up, I had no close relatives outside of my parents and siblings. And I sure didn’t miss having little kids riding Hot Wheels up and down the sidewalks, yelling and screaming bloody murder. But after a while, I came to feel that having only retired folks gave the community an ossified feel. My own mother used to comment that it was like living in a mausoleum.

And one of the things that hit me as my parents aged is that the older residents get in a bind when they reach a certain age. They can’t drive anymore or have health issues, but their kids live far away and rarely get to visit. So they end up moving into assisted living, downsizing. The snow birds sadly give up the annual migration when they reach that age. Ultimately, many choose to move back nearer their children at some point in time. It becomes a strange cycle that makes it hard to keep a real feeling of family. I was fortunate to live close by my parents, but most had no family nearby to help them.

What About Covenants?

Rules that Homeowners’ Associations make you agree to are intended to preserve the property values and the look and feel of the community. Some are no brainers, but it’s funny how carried away some HOAs get. Even the best-intended ones can lead to conflict. I recall a good friend, a fellow biologist, who lived in a community where the HOA had rules about keeping your yard looking good. He had one portion of his property that had native grasses, a rare commodity in his area, and he let them grow tall and go to seed so they’d come back the following year, like a sort of living museum. But the HOA sent him a notice saying if he didn’t cut his grass, they’d come do it for him. That led to some unpleasantness.

Shouldn’t you be able to do what you want with your property? It’s hard to draw the line between what is best for the community and the personal freedom of the homeowner. A retirement community near the one I lived in was so restrictive, my business partner and I, who owned a landscaping firm, called it “Little Russia,” and we didn’t really like working there. It was surprising how many residents complained to us about the covenants and how stupid and strangling they were–and that was mostly about their plants. Yet they had bought property there.

Golf, Anyone?

Golf seems to be the central theme in most of the retirement communities in the Sun Belt. Yet many residents don’t golf. My parents didn’t. Nor did I. The HOA charges fees that cover the amenities, and early on, the annual fee was surprisingly low. But in the years after I left, my parents were struggling and complaining about the fees, because they had gotten so old, they used few of the amenities, but the price kept going up each year. Water is always a challenge in the desert, and the use of pesticides is pretty high on golf courses, and keeping them resown each winter so that there’s always grass is pretty costly. So even though the residents know when they buy a home what the deal is, they aren’t always happy when prices start creeping up, forcing the HOA fees higher and higher.

My experience with HOAs led me to believe the best HOA is hands off. The fewer restrictions, the better. The lower the fees, the better. But I know that isn’t how everyone sees it. What is your personal opinion about retirement communities? What pluses and minuses have you experienced?

Getting Old Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

Getting Old Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

My “Autumn In The Desert” series takes place in a retirement community. All the main characters are 55 and older. Conventional wisdom says that retirement is a time for golf and steadily declining health. But that is a shallow and invalid viewpoint. And the worst thing you can do if you are 55 or older is to buy into it.

The media and our unfortunate culture on the one hand ply you with golden pictures of a happy retirement to keep you locked in a job you don’t really like during your middle years, wishing your life away. Then, when you arrive at retirement, the reality of it is rarely as rosy as you’ve been led to believe. That same media and culture convince you to buy into decrepitude and decaying health. They scare you into buying all kinds of insurance, none of which gives decent coverage. Then they give you a health care system that can’t fix you.

Aging is inevitable. But you would be wise to wake up and look critically at the picture of aging that you’ve been handed. Is it the way you want to live your Golden Years? From adult diapers to assisted living, aging is painted as a time of loss, constriction and giving up. You give up the dreams of fulfillment you had as a younger person. You let go of the idea you could be healthy as you age. You face financial and physical challenges that force you to downsize and give up hope.

It is my hope that readers of my “Autumn In The Desert” series will be able to see there are other ways of looking at life after retirement. You are a human being, with dreams and plans and the ability to make things happen. Yes, it can be late to start at age 60, but that’s the beauty of life. It’s never really too late to go after your dreams, to make a good life choice, to be the person you always wanted to be.

I wish there were more books with heroes our age. We need role models to remind us that retirement shouldn’t be a ghetto lifestyle filled with gloom and regret (even a gilded one), but an ongoing journey of discovery and fulfillment. What do you want to do with your Golden Years? Please let me know what you think in the Comments section below.

Time & Tech Wait For No Man (Or Woman)

Time & Tech Wait For No Man (Or Woman)

I don’t think I’m alone in this, but it’s still embarrassing…but first, some background.

My first novel, “Renaissance,” Book 1 in my Autumn In The Desert series, launched on August 31, 2016, about 15 months after I first started writing it. It was a big milestone for me, because I was not a full-time writer during that period. But in mid-2014, we decided to focus more on writing, and I spent a great deal of the next several months writing nonfiction books. In early 2015, I got a brainstorm for a novel and jumped into it.

This in spite of the fact that I had a partially written science fiction novel lanquishing in the cloud. I’d started it as a real ‘spare time’ project in 2012. It required lots of research and thought, and I had nearly 82,000 words written at the time I embarked on Autumn In The Desert. I only felt I had time for one novel, so I put the science fiction on hold.

In the meantime, my laptop died and I replaced it with a Mac. I’d long wanted a Mac, but we’d never had enough money to swing it. I figured a MacBook Pro was all I needed, and when I got it, I was in seventh heaven. Just over 3 years later, I decided I would write two novels at one time, so I needed to find (I really couldn’t remember where the files were) and get writing on my science fiction novel again.

I finally remembered they were backed up on the cloud (since the PC was no more), and I went to retrieve them, only to discover that they were in the wrong format. The YWriter software I’d used to write the novel was only for PCs. It took me a lot of research, time and effort to discover how to retrieve the files. But finally, I was able to get most, if not all, of them into Scrivener on my Mac.

Technology is changing so fast these days that it’s a real challenge to keep up with it. You blink, and you’re left behind. This was a real lesson to me about not putting anything aside for long. I felt like NASA sitting on mounds of data from space missions in floppy discs, with no way to read them.

As an indie author, I have to learn all kinds of skills that traditional authors can foist off on someone else. I’m not complaining, but sometimes it leads to a panic attack, as in when your 82,000-word manuscript appears to be lost forever. And it’s pretty embarrassing to admit it didn’t occur to you that it might be a problem. But all’s well that ends well, and I’m pretty much back on track. I hope I learned my lesson.

Have you ever had an embarrassing problem like this because of rapidly changing technology? Please feel free to share in the Comments section below. I don’t want to feel like the only person to ever do something like this…