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90s Club

Hello everyone,
Need a speaker or workshop leader? I am an experienced speaker and have conducted workshops on subjects related to writing, publishing, and historical research. East coast only, though, since I live in Maryland. Contact me at eileenmcintire@aol.com.

On the calendar:
August, 2015: Guest Speaker, Sugarloaf Congregation of Unitarian Universalists, Germantown, MD. Talk: “Don’t cut your life short.” Expect to be active, alert, and able no matter what your age.

I’m also seeking an agent for my two latest novels:
In Rembrandt’s Shadow, commercial and historical fiction
The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock, Cozy mystery.

Association memberships provide useful and important benefits. I profit from membership in the Maryland Writers Association, Sisters in Crime and its Chesapeake Chapter, Independent Book Publishers Association, and the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association. I also attend meetings of Mystery Writers of America.

I traveled throughout Florida and Morocco to research my novel, Shadow of the Rock, and in process learned about the Morocco-America connection. A slim, attractive 91-year-old woman swimming laps in a pool is the inspiration for my 90s Club series of cozy mysteries. All available in e-book and paperback at amazon.com or see my website, http://www.ehmcintire.com.

Enjoy the day!
Eileen Haavik McIntire

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Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging

Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging

My 90s Club cozy mystery series features able. alert, and active people in their 90s who live at Whisperwood Retirement Village. The inspiration for the series came from meeting a woman years ago at a pool party. She was slim, attractive, the only one in the pool, and she was swimming laps. She was 91 years old. 91! I hadn’t realized until recently that, from that moment, she became my role model for someone in their 90s. That’s what I visualize and expect. That is the possibility.

When the writers in my critique group read the draft chapters for the series, they objected to the idea that a 91-year-old could do anything but sit in a wheelchair dribbling Pablum. My characters were Continue reading “Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging”

Never Too Old

I’m on the cutting edge with my 90s Club mystery series. My 90-year-olds are able, alert, and active, and more and more medical studies are showing that old age isn’t what sinks you into decrepitude. No matter what your age, here’s what will do the job: Diabetes, obesity, no exercise, poor diet, hypertension, stress, and depression.

I spent yesterday morning at a 90-minute workshop given by Dr. Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance. In a fast-paced workshop, Dr. Fotuhi described Continue reading “Never Too Old”

To Outline or Not to Outline

When I finished my third novel, I swore that I would first outline then work from the outline to write my fourth novel.

An outline, I thought, would help me write a book more efficiently, without the need to reorganize chapters, backtrack to check plot points, or rewrite to sort out confusion and repetition. An outline would propel me forward each day, since I would know what needed to happen next. With an outline, I could probably finish a novel in just a couple of months.

Excellent plan, I thought. How naive could I be?

Very. I simply can’t write that way. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my characters until I get immersed in their lives and dilemmas. I don’t think of all the interweaving plot points and digressions at first. The ideas simmer and froth in the back of my mind until I pull them forth as my characters and the plot dynamics need them.

Now that I’m halfway through my fourth novel, a sequel to Shadow of the Rock entitled Return of the Rembrandt, I realize that my first draft has to be considered my “outline.” It still needs much filling in. Character development, relationships, motivations, and plot points have to be refined and strengthened. But I’m on the way.

Years ago, I gave a workshop on setting goals. I discovered that most of the people in the workshop resisted goal-setting. I was shocked. I had thought goal-setting was a no-brainer. Like writing an outline. The most common reason the naysayers gave was that single-minded working to reach a set goal got in the way of serendipitous possibilities along the way. They made an impression, because that’s the way I’ve come to feel about outlining a novel.

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More for the 90s Club

For those who arch eyebrows at my 90s Club mystery series, I add three more examples of 90-year-olds still active, still alert, still contributing.

Featured in Parade Magazine, Dec. 29, 2013 issue, was 94-year-old Olga Kotelko, West Vancouver, Canada, who still competes at long-jumping and high-jumping.

When Marta Eggerth, operetta singer and international film star, was 92, she performed for an hour and a half at a cafe in New York, then went on to perform in other solo shows at the Viennese-style cabaret. She recently died at age 101.

Homer LaBorwit, from Baltimore, MD, was a practicing optician into his 102nd year.

The 90s Club cozy mystery series features Nancy Dickenson and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement VIllage who meddle in murder and mayhem and almost lose their lives.
The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase
The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue

More About Old Dogs: Will Do is Better Than Can’t Do

My 90s Club cozy mystery series continues to raise eyebrows. Some readers tell me of the 90- and 100-year-olds they know who do remarkable things like drive long distances, win tennis matches, canoe across lakes, etc.; other readers shake their heads and say they find it hard to believe that anyone in their 90s or 100s is up for anything but a rocking chair or the Alzheimer’s unit.

The 90s Club series concept came from watching a slim attractive, fit woman swim laps at a pool party. Then I learned she was 91 years old. So for the nonbelievers, I add another person to my list of very senior but functioning citizens: Helen Crossley, a former school nurse, who turned 105 in August 2013. She held her nursing license until age 96 and, although legally blind since age 99, she still gets around with and without a walker. (Washington Post, 8-24-2013).

The older I get, the more I hear people fall into line and repeat that sad refrain, “I’m too old.” I’ve heard people in their twenties say, “I’m too old for…” In fact, it seems to me that most popular aphorisms that pass for “wisdom,” are intended to limit and control rather than encourage and support. So I say phooey to all that stuff about what a person can and can’t do at any age.

Just saw a wonderful movie called Quartet, about a group of elderly musicians at the Musicians Retirement Home in England. It’s directed by Dustin Hoffman, stars Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay and includes cameo appearances by many formerly well-known now retired musicians. A love story develops as these musicians put together a gala to save their home and try to persuade Smith as a troubled opera diva to join three other singers in the Rigoletto quartet. Highly recommended.

Available Dec. 1: The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, second in this cozy mystery series. This time, Nancy Dickenson and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village head south to Fort Lauderdale to rescue one friend and find another. Four attempts to murder Nancy’s long-time confidant Peter Stamboul have failed, but in the placid lifestyle of his retirement condo, who would want to kill Peter and why? Adventurous young Jessica Cantwell took a job as crew on a boat, but when the captain is murdered, she disappears and becomes a “person of interest.” Once again, murder and mayhem stalk Nancy and fellow 90s Club members Louise and George as they race to save Peter and Jessica’s lives and, ultimately, their own.

The Sapper’s Plot, a tough, action-filled mystery-thriller, is the latest book by M.L. Doyle, author of books about “women in combat boots.” Army Master Sergeant Harper is assigned to accompany a TV news team to a remote construction camp in Honduras where U.S. troops are providing engineering support for the project. The TV team is supposedly following one of the construction units on the mission, but Army public affairs suspects the team has another agenda. When the group arrives at the camp, they discover the body of one of the workers buried alive in concrete. Harper takes command of the investigation and fights her way through the cover-up attempts, rigors of rough jungle living, army protocol, and male chauvinism. The descriptive details add much to the realism and mood of the story. This is a fast-paced, gripping read that builds to a thrilling climax and final unmasking of the killer.

Ever Upward

The commencement speaker at our grandson’s graduation from MIT in June was MIT alumnus Drew Houston, class of 2006 and CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, a service now used by millions around the world. Dropbox grew from the simple idea that people should have a way to access their files anywhere without relying on e-mail attachments or thumb drives.

His talk was unassuming, personal, and inspiring, which was a surprise to me since Houston is so young, granted that he is a millionaire many times over.  I scribbled a few notes to share with you, but essentially, his talk was about plunging forward, not worrying about making things perfect but about having an adventure. Life has no warm-up, he said, no practice buttons and failure doesn’t matter. “You only have to succeed once.”  

You can read his commencement address online at http://www.networkworld.com.

 When my husband and I started our publishing business, we had no idea what we were getting into or what a complex and frustrating business it is. But it has been an adventure and many times it has been fun.  As I’ve talked to other small business owners, I’ve found that for most of us, we had to take the leap and just begin and plunge forward. No warm-up, no practice button. You tackle things as you come to them.

 And now as I prepare to launch my third novel, The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, I realize the same goes for this publishing venture as well. I have had two critique groups, two editors, and three beta readers peruse the book and comment on characters, plot, writing, and other aspects of a mystery novel. I could do this indefinitely in an effort to achieve perfection.

But at some point, the author has to say “I’m finished with this book and I’m ready to move on.” On the other hand, continuing to tinker with the manuscript delays the scary risk of sending it out to meet the critics.

Better to think of it all as an adventure, a learning experience, and a step forward in my own development as a writer. What I’ve written so far is the best I could do at the time, but what will I do next time? Where will I go next? How will I improve?

 At the conclusion of his talk, Houston said that his grandmother always ended their telephone calls with the word, “Excelsior,” which means “ever upward.”

I’ll end this blog the same way. Excelsior!

Old Dogs and Salty Dogs

I recently spoke on “Old Dogs, New Tricks” at Charlestown Retirement Village in Catonsville, MD. The talk was about my book, The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase, set in a place like Charlestown. I was interested in how the audience would receive my collection of articles about people 90 and over who are active, alert, some even working. I describe these “old dogs” from time to time in this blog, like the 100-year-old woman who wins the canoe races in her community or the 100-year old man who ran the 26-mile Toronto marathon.

The response at Charlestown was positive. Of course, I couldn’t help mentioning my first book, Shadow of the Rock, a historical novel about the Morocco-Florida connection, which describes the Barbary pirates, salty dogs of North Africa. Since some people scoff at the idea of pirates, I gave the audience the latest piracy statistics from the International Marine Bureau. As of May 7, 2013, four hijackings and 93 pirate attacks have occured this year. Somali pirates currently hold five ships and 71 hostages.  

Speaking of pirates, in April we toured the Pirates Museum in St. Augustine (Florida) on the way to the Amelia Island Book Festival. The museum offers facts, artifacts and sometimes gruesome exhibits for all ages with emphasis on the “golden age of piracy” of the 1500-1700s. The museum is across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos in the old town, and I recommend dropping by if you’re in town.

Tip for authors:  Erika Liodice, vice president of the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association, (MBPA) offered suggestions at its spring meeting for increasing sales at book shows. We exhibited our books at the Amelia Island (FL) Book Festival, and following Erika’s suggestion, I held my book and stood in front of our table. As people passed by, I greeted them and asked if I could tell them about my book. I sold books while most of the other exhibitors languished, unsung, unsold, and bored, sitting behind their tables.

MBPA and similar associations around the country provide resources, information, and cooperative marketing opportunities for their members. Now that so many authors are turning publisher, it’s time to consider learning more about the field of publishing as a business.

 

 

On Launching a Book

My second book in the 90s Club cozy mystery series, entitled The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, has gone through two critique groups, two editors, numerous drafts and I’m getting ready to launch. This is when the fear hits.

Is it good enough? Will it sustain the reader’s attention? Are my characters developed enough? Does the plot make any sense? I am a worse critic of my own writing than the cruelest jibe expert.

It’s time to get out my copy of Rotten Reviews and Rejections* and read the nasty comments reviewers gave to such famous authors as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare. The book is full of examples. Of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, George Brimley in the Spectator said: “More than any of its predecessors chargeable with not simply faults, but absolute want of construction…meagre and melodramatic.”  William Winstanley, 1687, said of John Milton: “His fame is gone out like a candle in a snuff and his memory will always stink.” The San Francisco Examiner rejected Rudyard Kipling with: “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the New York Herald Tribune called it “A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

A reviewer once said of a Laura Lippman mystery that her latest book showed her development as a novelist.  I, too, am growing as a novelist. Each book is the best I can do at that moment. I hope the next will show stronger character development, more intricate plotting, and a greater sensitivity to the human condition.  But right now, this is where I’m at.

I’ll be speaking April 17 at Charlestown Retirement Village in Baltimore on writing, publishing and my 90s Club mystery series. I’m looking for other speaking gigs as well. On April 27, we will have an exhibit at the Amelia Island, FL, Book Festival.

I continue to be astounded at what people in their 90s and 100s are doing in the world. My friend Pat sent me an article about a 100-year-old woman who’s a computer whiz at her retirement community and also creates its gardens. Pat met her at a birding lecture, where she wanted to know what flowers to plant to attract birds. They were sitting next to each other and walked out together. Pat thought she was maybe 70 or so and then came across the article  that she sent to me.

Know someone who is turning 90? Give them a copy of my book, The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase. They’ll enjoy the light touch and positive outlook on old age. High school or college reunion coming up? The 90s Club series is a wryly humourous gift for attendees. Contact me for a 50 percent discount off the cover price for orders of 10 or more. Email:  eileenmcintire@aol.com.

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About The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase: The 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village discovers a simmering brew of thefts, murders, and exploitation bubbling beneath its active lifestyle in this cozy mystery, the first in a series by Eileen Haavik McIntire. Except for the evil underfoot, the mystery accurately presents life in an upscale retirement community while spoofing stereotypes about the elderly.  “A must” for readers of cozy mysteries” – Midwest Book Review.

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* Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews & Rejections, edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. Pushcart Press, Wainscott, NY, 1998.

Coming soon - New mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

Coming soon –

The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase,

a mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

I’ve been posting items about people 90, 100 years old and older who are still active, still pursuing interests and activities like the rest of us, and some still working.  I’ve come across them in researching my new mystery, the first in a series featuring The 90s Club of Whisperwood Retirement Village.

Beneath Whisperwood’s luxurious lifestyle bubbles a simmering brew of thefts, murders, and exploitation. Whisperwood’s 90s Club piles up clues like tricks in a bridge game to uncover the culprits—and almost lose their lives.

Leader of the club is Nancy Dickenson, drawn from a 91-year-old woman I saw swimming laps at a pool party.  The mystery is well-researched and, except for the evil underfoot, accurately portrays life in an upscale retirement community while spoofing stereotypes about the elderly. The characters play off each other, and the dialogue is often humorous. The plot turns upon subtle possibilities for exploiting the elderly, often the targets of scam artists. The villains in this novel, however, walk, talk, and play with their victims.

The book will be available later this spring in both print and e-book editions.  My previous novel, The Shadow of the Rock, is historical fiction that Midwest Book Review called, “a riveting story of time and humanity, highly recommended.”

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