Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where Do Writing Ideas Come From?

What inspires ideas for writers? They may come from anywhere: life experiences, people we’ve met, events we’ve witnessed, dreams or quirks of our imaginations. I often take something from real life and then brainstorm, expand it or take it to an extreme. As an example my protagonist, Paul Jacobson, in Retirement Homes Are Murder has short-term memory loss. My stepfather had short-term memory loss so I saw first hand the issues associated with dementia. But Paul has completely different symptoms than my stepfather had. Paul remembers thing fine during the day retaining the excellent memory of his youth, but overnight everything goes blotto. As Paul says, he still has a photographic memory during the day, it’s just that overnight someone removes the film. People with short-term memory loss need to devise methods for dealing with their problem. Through the encouragement of people around him, Paul starts keeping a journal. This becomes his memory aid. With Paul there is one circumstance when he can remember things from the day before. He uncovers this accidently but unfortunately it isn’t something he can activate every day. I’ll leave it to the reader to also discover this little idiosyncrasy of Paul’s strangely wired brain.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Older Readers and Email

A portion of the readership of my geezer-lit mystery, Retirement Homes Are Murder, consists of seniors. A lot of older citizens don’t use computers. In fact only 35% of households headed by people 65 and older have computers and only 29% use the Internet. Yet, some of the older people who do use the Internet have sent me email messages about my book. Here is a sampling of the ones I have enjoyed:

"This book realistically covered a lot of the issues that seniors face but no one wants to talk about. I felt like I personally knew all of the characters and hated for the book to end."

"Now I am only 76 so it is hard to relate to those old fogies; but I am close enough that the symptoms are appearing. Like, my buddies and I play hard tennis twice a week; but, sometimes, after a heated point, nobody remembers what the game score is. Nevertheless your book kept me laughing, many times out loud. It was a wonderful read and I will pass it along to all my buddies."

"Thank you so much for the joy you gave me in reading your book. Paul Jacobson is my new hero. Whilst I am traveling towards the twilight zone myself this book makes me feel so good about myself, that I can rest easy in the knowledge that all is not lost."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Write At Any Age

“I’d like to write, but I’m too old to write.” I’ve heard this statement many times from seniors who I’ve spoken with at retirement homes. The truth is you’re never too old to write. I published my first novel at 62. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first Little House book (Little House in the Woods) at age 65. And then there is Helen Hooven Santmyer who published And the Ladies of the Club at age 87 while in a nursing home. This was later rereleased and became a best seller. Better yet, Millard Kaufman published his first novel Bowl of Cherries at the age of 90. So don’t let age either young or old get in your way (I’m mentoring an eighth grade student who is writing a novel for a school project this year). There are two prerequisites: the desire to write and the perseverance. Writing skills can be learned through critique groups, classes, reading books about writing and lots of practice. If you want to write, pick up that pencil or pen or go to your keyboard. Don’t put it off. You never know what will happen.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What is a geezer?

So what is a geezer? As my protagonist, Paul Jacobson, in Retirement Homes Are Murder would say, a geezer is an old fart who is still kicking. Some of interesting geezers include the following: 82 year old Gus Jones of Seattle who while walking down the streets of Seattle in early 2007 was attacked by a berserk man who tried to throw lighter fluid on him and set him on fire. Gus whacked the guy with his cane and escaped. The crazy man went on to set two women on fire, fortunately only singeing their hair before he was subdued. The picture of Gus in the Seattle Times showed him smiling and holding his cane high in the air. Or another example that isn’t the typical picture of a tottering gent. In Ohio an 89 year old man was arrested for driving around naked. And there is the British rock group the Zimmers who debuted at #23 of the British rock chart. Their average age is 79 including lead singer Alf Carretta who is 90 year old and another band member Winifred Warburton age 99. Recently featured on NBC today was 100 year olf Legrand Nielson who runs races, swims, bikes and retains a great sense of humor. And one of my favorites is a “geezerette,” 102 year old Elsie McClain, who shot a hole in one while playing golf.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Geezer-lit Mystery Blog

This is the Geezer-lit Mystery blog. It is dedicated to a variety of subject: writing, mysteries, issues and opportunities of aging and memory. With the publication of my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, I have spoken with many writers, seniors and people facing questions of aging. My protagonist, Paul Jacobson, is an octogenarian with short-term memory loss, a sense of humor and a love of life. He accepts his “geezerhood,” solves a murder mystery and enjoys a romance along the way, even though he can’t remember what happened to him the day before. So I’d like to kick off this blog with this statement: Moments unite through time and individuals through love. What more is happiness than living and loving each moment.
Mike Befeler