Wednesday, July 2, 2014

90 Million reasons to write older protagonists.

Logo provided by Joanne Guidoccio

OVER 90 MILLION BABY BOOMERS in North America. As part of that demographic, I enjoy reading about older female protagonists and I'm excited to introduce authors who write Boomer Lit and are willing to share their stories.

 TODAY I'M WELCOMING  JOANNE GUIDOCCIO,  author of novels featuring female protagonists in the second act of their lives. She's also a savvy blogger with an informative and inspiring web site, On the Road to Reinvention.


Joanne Guidoccio - Between Land and Sea
In my late forties, I realized that I no longer enjoyed reading novels with 20something and 30something protagonists. It felt like poking into the heads and hearts of young women who could easily be former students. So, I started searching for novels featuring an older crowd and discovered several late-blooming authors who had launched successful second acts. I longed to pen my own novel, but family and career obligations prevented me from launching a writing practice.

When I retired six years ago, I was ready to write. At first, I focused on the non-fiction market and wrote book reviews and articles about careers, education, money management, personal growth and development, and wellness. While I was pleased with the response from newspapers, magazines, and online publications, I felt a growing restlessness.

It was time to pen the novel.

Two different storylines emerged, each incorporating a fifty-three-year-old woman at a crossroads. I thought I had randomly selected that particular age but later realized it was my retirement age. The similarities do not end there. Both protagonists reinvent themselves as career counsellors hoping to focus on the boomer population. Toward the end of my teaching career, I enrolled in the Career Development Practitioner Program at Conestoga College. Originally, I intended to open a career counselling office, but personal and health challenges forced me to change course. Instead, I am living vicariously through my protagonists.

When it came time to query agents and publishers, I faced another challenge. While writing Between Land and Sea, I had crossed several genres by introducing an overweight, middle-aged mermaid, who was abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England and forced to reinvent herself using a magic tablet.

I experimented with several descriptors that were not well received.

According to one agent, it was not dark enough to be labelled urban fantasy. When I followed her advice and used contemporary women’s fiction with romantic elements, there were very few responses. I was relieved when Soul Mate editor Debby Gibson offered me a contract and then classified Between Land and Sea as paranormal romance. But the confusion persisted after the book’s release on Amazon. One friend confided: “I assumed you were writing about witches or vampires. I’m so glad to hear you’re writing about mermaids.”

Still wondering about the “right” descriptor, I started reading articles about literary genres and sub-genres and discovered boomer lit and hen lit. Both sub-genres focus on older female characters as protagonists and address such themes as dating after divorce or widowhood, giving birth after age forty, dealing with multiple generations living in the same house, and launching second (third or fourth) careers.

This is definitely a growing market and one that deserves more attention from agents, publishing houses, and booksellers. In the meantime, I will continue featuring older protagonists and, when discouraged or frustrated, reread the excellent reviews I have received from readers of all ages.

Between Land and Sea - paranormal mermaid story

 After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

 With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.

Find Joanne's book here:  Between Land and Sea

Follow Joanne on Facebook or Twitter


  1. Mahrie, thanks for hosting me. :)

  2. You are most welcome, Joanne. Your book and blogs display the concept of great older protagonists and real life second acts. Happy to have you visit.

  3. What a great post and it makes perfect sense to target baby boomers, of which I am one.

    Like you I, too, reinvented myself as a full-time writer at age 50. However my protagonists are in their early 30's. This will be a series and I'll bring them into their 40's. Hopefully! ;)

    Your post is great food for thought for upcoming novels. I had never heard of hen lit. Lol. Loved hearing your genre straddler story. I too straddle genres with romance, women's fiction and suspense all packed into one.

    Good luck with your cool mermaid story!

    1. Hi Beth, Love meeting other boomers who have launched second acts as writers. Good luck with your series. Thanks for dropping by. :)

  4. I just left a long comment but it didn't take. I love the idea of targeting boomers and writing about that age group. It makes perfect sense.

    Good luck with you're mermaid novel. I want to read it!

  5. ...your mermaid... Dumb autocorrect.

  6. Like you, Joanne, I love reading about women who are entering the second act of their lives. I love the concept of your mermaid book, and have put it on the TBR pile. Great post and great food for thought.

  7. Thanks Becky...Happy reading!

  8. I think it would be wonderful to see more mature protagonists.

    1. Definitely agree and hope to see more boomer lit in the future. Thanks for dropping by, Maggie :)

  9. It is good to read about someone more worldly, possible a little cynical and sarcastic, instead of wide-eyed wonder. Thank you Joanne for sharing your experiences and thank you Mahrie for bringing Joanne's book to my attention. I am very interested in 'Boomer Lit'.

  10. It's been a while since I've read a novel with a "wide-eye wonder" and I don't miss it. I'm hoping to see more novels and movies that cater to the Boomer crowd. Thanks for dropping by, Mary :)

  11. Thank you for sharing your experiences in the publishing world and you book. You are an inspiration to us all.

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