Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's Done!

Crack open the champagne! Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights—the book—is done!

I’m midway through my first full read-through with edits; then, I’ll send it off to several volunteer readers while I beef up the plan to find an agent and/or publisher--or decide to self-publish. I sense that the right road to take will be revealed in the next few months. My earlier attempts to find representation may have been premature. Like working a complex puzzle, I didn’t get the complete picture of what the book was meant to be until most of the pieces fell into place. Therefore, I couldn’t pitch it in a way that fully conveyed its aim and impact. So much for outline versus “writing by the seat of your pants.” In my experience, a bit of both is best and produces the most creative results.

Here’s my bestseller list blurb (think big!):

New Tagline

Eat, Pray, Love meets Sex in the City, Boomer Edition. Don't get old. Get ready for your next phase of fabulous and fulfilled.

Target Audience
One of the big clarifications that came into focus the closer I got to the finish line: The target audience of this book is definitely women baby boomers. While there is plenty to interest men and up-and-coming younger women (as long as you live an average life span, everyone will age), boomer women are the pioneers with the motivation and skills to reinvent aging. We are not only the unique generation that survived the ‘50s Happy Days and the ‘60s Counterculture, those polar opposites in our somewhat schizophrenic coming of age. We also have always done it our way, one of the reasons we have been called the Me Generation. Now we are morphing into a new ME Generation, which stands for and celebrates our age group as Most Experienced.

The skills that often come naturally to women because of their hormonal make-up—intuition and insight—are half of the equation needed to find your own personal path to cool later living. The formula is Intuition + Insight + Analysis + Synthesis = A Sensational Seasoned Citizen. Hopefully, watching how I worked the formula in my own life will inspire you to mine yours for all its worth and to discover not only your personal curriculum to a fulfilled life, all the way, but also how each lesson learned opens the path for the next hint on how to have more adventures in fine living.

When it comes to naming your book baby, writers must accept that our brilliant christenings are what they call in the publishing biz working titles. Often the publisher’s marketing department has the last word on which title sticks based on its selling power. My first working title for this book, which I still love and in many ways prefer, was Hot Flashes of Insight! The reason it wasn’t a keeper:

“So, what is it, a book about menopause?”

This was the initial reaction of a young male guest editor in an online class I took in the mid-‘90s. (Yes, I’ve been incubating this project that long.) For many of us, the less said, read, or experienced about “the change,” the better. The only role hot flashes played in my life were to heat up my already warmed-up intuition to boiling. The emphasis is on the insight. Hot flashes were only the vehicle. And, besides, if we’re talking about the years approaching and beyond Social Security, for most women, the flashes are long gone. I did not want it to be mistaken for a book, humorous or otherwise, about surviving the Great Hormonal Transition.

My original subtitle for Hot Flashes of Insight! was Flashbacks on Passion from the Fast Lane to Social Security.

Today’s working title and subtitle:

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights
Hints in Plain Sight for a Cool Later Life

I would welcome your feedback on these titles/subtitles. Say, for instance, you just love that first title. I could easily be persuaded to go back to it, as long as the subtitle deflects any bad memories or future fears of the menopause from hell. Then, if it’s not my future editor’s favorite, I can produce proof that my earliest readers beg to differ. After all, it is your reaction they are trying to anticipate.

AARP Contest

I am a nut for writing contests, my version of roulette or playing the slots, an indulgence I seldom allow myself. I’d have to admit on objective analysis that I’ve probably lost more on writing contest entry fees and won less money in them over the years than on my casino trips. Casinos I only do once or twice a decade. Writing contests? Usually several times a year.

I don’t spin three cherries in contests as often, either, but once in awhile, coins kaching in good volume out of the literary one-armed bandit. (Try writing with one hand.)

In 2005, I won $200 and first place in the Yosemite Writers Contest for a mini-proposal of Hot Flashbacks, while it was still called Hot Flashes of Insight! The real “in” it gave me was incentive—to retire early and get this show on the road.

My latest contest is Borders & AARP’s Your Next Chapter short essay competition. It celebrates AARP’s 50th anniversary and focuses on what people over 50 are doing with their next leg of life. Hot Flashbacks is so on target with the contest subject matter, I’m hoping for a fighting chance to win. My book even features a chapter called The AARP Card—a reprise of my reactions to receiving my membership card as I approached the big Five Oh, primarily of screaming denial that I might be getting older. Who knew this was the year AARP would become eligible to receive its own membership in the 50+ club!

Next Steps
I’m brushing up my short forms of the book—synopsis and chapter outline—for the annual writers contest at California State University, Sacramento. There I’ll have a chance to do a whistle stop or speed date with several agents and editors. This is an opportunity for a one-on-one pitch. The last time I did this, I was very early into the project. With a finished product, I have a lot better chance to make meaningful connections. And we have established, three years ago, I didn’t know completely where this book was headed. Here’s to the excitement and wonder of discovery. That’s one of my favorite parts about writing.

How to Help Make It So
The photo is of me signing Capital Crimes:15 Tales by Sacramento Area Authors at our March 2008 book launch for the mystery anthology published by my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Capitol Crimes.

In indigenous cultures, women often give birth in a circle of other women who support and cheer them on through their ordeal of delivery. It is a ritual of shared joy and experience that not only bolsters the new mother; it also honors the truth that all creations belong to the community. “
It takes a village,” Hillary Clinton told us in her book title, to raise children. Same goes for nurturing our ideas and stories that make up our larger cultural reality. I now realize that in creating this blog, I have replicated that circle of support. Thank you for being my midwives!

On the spiritual level, what we see is what we get when it comes to manifesting our visions, and visions held collectively are even more powerful in the Dreams Come True Department. So, memorize this image of me signing books and see it in your mind often. Send good energy. How can I lose with friends like you and a mind meld so mighty?


Anonymous said...


I'm so glad to get to know you and learn about your writing. Congratulations on finishing that book. I, too, am writing a book for boomer women but I still have a couple chapters to go.

Love your blog--I'll be back often!

Joyce Mason said...

Feisty 50+,

I have been a staunch advocate of women networking for years, and I'm delighted to have you in my circle. Can't wait to hear more about your book and ultimately to read it. Soon I'll be posting a Kindred Spirits Blog List--yours will be on it! Meanwhile, for Hot Flashbacks readers who just can't wait, you'll find Feisty's blog at

All best,