Writing Their Own Story

Writing Their Own Story

Getty/Elena Bondarenko

Seasoned authors are reinventing their lives by creating inspiring heroines that readers love.

“Claire Emerson spent her life as a devoted wife, mother, and grand-mother. She never dreamed she would end up divorced, lonely, and searching for a new purpose. Nor did she expect that her 60th birthday would bring a magical mission, contact with strange supernatural beings, and a call to step into the role of defender of humankind. Amid hot flashes and creaky joints, not to mention struggles to harness her late-blooming and unpredictable magical powers, she must try to save the world. First, she has to find her reading glasses.”

And so begins a three-book paranormal saga. It was created by Linda Poitevin, an author of the same age as the heroine who writes as Lydia M. Hawke.

In the series, Claire learns she must fight a dark war and that she is one of five wise women destined to save the planet. In real life, Poitevin’s 60th birthday inspired her to try her hand at inventing a superhero who is a menopausal grandma. The first book, Becoming Crone, debuted in 2021. A Gathering of Crones followed in 2022. The third book, Game of Crones, is due in August. Readers are raving that these fantasy books reflect the real lives of older women. Some people call this new genre “crone lit.”

“Creating this series definitely grew out of my personal life,” says Poitevin. “People tend to be more dismissive of so-called seniors, especially women.” At the same time, she recognized, “I really don’t feel that much older from year to year. I’m still hovering around the age of 30.”

Poitevin is happily married, unlike Claire, but she shares the similarity of having spent much of her life taking care of others. She was devoted to caring for and homeschooling her autistic daughter. With her children “all grown and flown,” she now has time to devote to her own life purpose of writing meaningful stories.

“There are very few books out there with a woman of mine and Claire’s age who gets to save the world,” says Poitevin. “I wrote the story because I wanted to see such a woman myself. It has really resonated with other women who, like me, still have a valid place in the world. They are women who have gained a lifetime of wisdom that they would love to share. They are still powerful, present, and relevant.”

Poitevin joins a growing number of women who are writing older characters or taking up the pen later in life themselves. Poitevin uses the term “crone” as an honorific.

“Representation matters, which is why it is so important for women to be inspired and encouraged by reading works featuring characters their age,” says Janet Scarborough Civitelli, PhD, a clinical and workplace psychologist who is also a writer. “Also, storytelling in the wisdom years is health promoting, whether verbally or in writing, either published or enjoyed privately.”

Cheryl Benton, publisher of the Three Tomatoes web magazine, has spent decades producing inspiring content for women in the prime of their lives.“Women’s stories, especially when we’ve lived for a while, are so important to get out in the world,” she says. “Too often, we are afraid to tell our truth, and yet when we do, it is liberating and helps other women share their stories. We find our common ground and see we are not alone.”

Benton, who hosts an annual Renewal Summit, had a full career by the time she penned her first novel, Can You See Us Now, in 2018. She followed with Can You Hear Us Now In 2021. Her characters are vibrant and fabulous females who are dealing with changing lives and roles, love, divorce, dating, sex, feeling invisible, aging parents, loss, Medicare, and menopause.

“When I set out to write the first novel, I intimately knew the characters—they are compilations of many women I know,” she recalls. “So when I started to write the novel, an amazing thing happened. The characters took over—it was as if they were writing the story for me. I knew these voices, I listened to them, and I just used my keyboard to bring them to life.”

The joy of publishing her own books led her to establish an imprint to give other first-time authors a chance at any age. This has been transformative for Benton and those she’s helped. “They’ve achieved something they had long hoped to make happen by actually becoming an author and not just talking about writing a book ‘someday.’”

Seasoned Romance for Seasoned Readers

The “seasoned romance" category attracts many mature writers and readers. Karen Booth, a contemporary romance author and cofounder of the Seasoned Romance group on Facebook, has authored many books, including Bring Me Back and Gray Hair Don’t Care. Both feature “later in life romances.”

Booth says the eBook revolution has helped open the doors to more diversity in publishing. “I’m finding lots of romance writers who are doing this as a second or third actin life,” she says.

Characters that break the traditional mold and defy ageism help people of all backgrounds and ages feel included. “For so long, we were fed entertainment that revolved around a very narrow range of people—young, beautiful, white people with perfect bodies.” says Booth. “But that’s not our world. And as things in everyday life become more complex and complicated, we all want to see ourselves in a story that gives hope and optimism. Romance does that. It’s never too late to fall in love.”

Her books are a good place to share pearls of personal wisdom. “I’ve seen enough and lived enough to have learned some lessons—often, hard ones,” she shares. “I like being able to share the things I’ve figured out, but also shine a light on the pervasive myth that people who are later in life will have everything figured out. We are all a work in progress.We are imperfect beings. The more we can talk about and share our own human experience, the richer the stories.”

Follow The Call of Your Book

Relationship expert and bestselling nonfiction author (The Soulmate Secret) Arielle Ford never wanted to write a novel. But the idea of her latest book hounded her until she could no longer refuse it. She went to India for research in 2019 and wrote during pandemic lockdowns. She says that some magical force seemed to accompany her to the computer, where words flowed from her fingers to the page. She was committed to giving her book life, even though the final revision was due during a time of intense caregiving for her mom, who later passed away.

Much of the book takes place in Rishikesh, India, which comes alive through the eyes of Ford’s protagonist, Holly, 38. Betrayed and injured in a bad accident due to a bad man, she sets out on a path of recovery. The fictional story was inspired by real heartbreaking tales shared by Ford’s friends and loved ones. Ford wanted this book to be a healing for them, and for all women who have suffered. “For anyone who has ever had their heart broken and their dreams crushed, this is a story about love, betrayal, and transformation, with a juicy revenge subplot and a very satisfying ending,” she says.

Her main male character is a mid-60s widower whose insights and spiritual wisdom help bring Holly back to life. “He is a composite of every bit of knowledge I’ve ever tripped over,” says Ford. Holly also has a new age mom, a Hindu aunt, and a yoga teacher who talks about Buddhist practices. They’re all in their 60s.

“I’ve had access to so many smart people,” says Ford. She wove many uplifting messages, healing modalities, and personal experiences into her novel—from cooking and meditation to a powerful visit to the Ganges. In an earlier part of her career, Ford was a publicist.She helped dozens of authors, including Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Neal Donald Walsh, and her beloved sister, the late Debbie Ford. As an author, her first book was self-published, and she then landed a big publishing contract for her series Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul.

Ford has been writing since her first childhood scribbles. As she approaches her 70th birthday, she calls herself a “queen-ager.” She encourages women to pick up their pens and tell their authentic stories at any age. Don’t worry about revising and polishing until later. Take the first step. “My belief is, if there's a book inside of you kicking and screaming to get out, then you have to do it,” says Ford. “And the first way to get it out is just to download it. Don’t edit. Stop thinking about it. Just write, write, write, write, write, write, and write.”

Need more writing inspiration? Try these five ways to embrace daily writing.

Writing Their Own Story

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