Hold on; I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d better back up.
Sometimes, we learn from our mistakes and sometimes we do not.
Ned worked in academia during a sabbatical. The juvenile behavior and endless backstabbing turned him off, and he decided against a second career in academia. How we ended up in a community for retired academics remains a mystery to this day.
Before my husband retired, we spent a few years reading Where to Retire magazine, which focuses on specific communities around the country and features cameos about the people who live in them. The articles usually cover climate, housing prices, taxes, cultural opportunities, etc., but they usually don’t touch on what it’s truly like to be a resident since the writers have not personally spent time in these communities.
The residents present their new communities in the best light because they need to justify their decision. The articles don’t mention what we call “the dark side”. Plus, when you go to the weekly wine and cheese welcome receptions, most people are trying hard to impress the newcomers. Their goal is to recruit more warm bodies to the neighborhoods so they can keep their HOA fees reasonable. (In our novel, we refer to some of the residents as vampires, and Ned added silver bullets to his holster. You get the idea.) In fact, when we moved into the real Einstein Meadows, we learned that the developer told the residents to “be on their best behavior for guests and visitors.”
We later learned that appearances can be deceiving. We knew we had to write a book based on a conversation at the first wine and cheese party we attended. Amazingly, Chapter One of our book actually happened.
Living in a retirement community taught us several valuable lessons. Although we figured things out too late, maybe you can benefit from the truths we discovered:
- We learned that some older people are often afraid of change and attempt to mandate conformity.
- Too often, the HOA board members revel in their officiousness and hold onto their positions longer than Congressional reps. We concluded that this practice by HOA boards makes a compelling case for term limits – something Congress should definitely enact.
- Many retirees want others to make decisions for them, and gladly relinquish the type of control they formerly had as homeowners.
- Rent before you buy!
- It’s important to read the CC&Rs (Covenants, Codes and Restrictions) thoroughly before you buy into a retirement community; we only skimmed ours. Beware: the devil is in the details. You probably should have a lawyer read them also. If you have second thoughts before or at the closing, walk away! Or better yet, run and don’t look back!
This was our experience. We wrote the novel as a cautionary tale about what lies beyond the gates of some retirement communities and what really goes on behind the scenes. So, who are these folks?
The residents of Einstein Meadows are know-it-all bosses, crazy colleagues, loudmouth neighbors and obnoxious HOA board members who stubbornly believe they have all the answers. Anyone who has ever run afoul of an employer or organization will recognize these folks.
Our debut novel illuminates a new path for retirees: growing and selling medicinal marijuana. Likewise, the process of writing and publishing a novel reshaped our retirement and put us on an exciting new path. Suddenly, we were Nancy and Ned, the “Published Authors”.
We even joined a fiction writer’s group at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. We met several people who have written novels, but lacked the confidence to put their work out there. So, these novels stay locked in a file drawer.
It takes a big leap of faith to share your work with the world. Most people cannot even conceive of writing a book and publishing it. The fact that we worked together as a couple, produced the entire book from the front cover to the last page, and created our own website astounds people.
We awarded ourselves a Lifetime Achievement Award for the monumental process of publishing 100 percent of a novel by ourselves. We wrote it, edited it, designed the cover and worked with a printer. Then we created a web site, produced an eBook, and put both the print and Kindle eBook for sale on Amazon.
Everyone loved the book and wanted more. We initially thought it was such a big deal to finish one book that we hadn’t thought beyond that to a second. However, since our fans demanded a sequel, we’re working on it. The tentative title is Einstein Meadows ɁQué Pasó? Lessons Learned While Letting it all Hang Out. We plan to write 13 epiphanies that the Einstonians get while they are high and decide to lose their clothes. Plus, our readers get to see what mischief their favorite characters have been up to!
Now, one year since we put our book on Amazon, we’ve written a TV pilot, launched more than 500 copies in circulation around the world and started a sequel. 2016 was such an exciting year for us. We can’t wait to see what adventures 2017 brings.