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A Unique Generation

Eagle’s Trace authors debut their first book

Created date

October 25th, 2011

Renate Donovan was sorting through her mail by the mailboxes at Eagle s Trace when she struck up a conversation with neighbor Patricia Haensly. The two chatted about their day, their activities, and their plans for the evening. At some point, the conversation took a deeper turn. We started talking about the fullness of our lives here, how we are as engaged and productive as ever, says Renate. That s when we first tossed around the idea of writing about our experiences. Nine months later, the pair celebrated the release of their book A Unique Generation: 70+: Living it up in a retirement community (AuthorHouse, 2011). We joke that it took us the same length of time to write our book as it does to have a baby, says Renate. In some ways, the comparison is not too far off.

Write what you know

The birth of their book began with a determination to dispel the notion of old people. There isn t much out there about life after 70, says Renate, who retired as the coordinator of foreign languages for the Spring Branch Independent School District. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot s book[The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 years after 50]stops at 75, but I think so much comes after that. Patricia and I are both in our early 80s, and we have many resources to lead fulfilling lives. I felt it was important to tell our story. Renate is a doer, says Patricia, who earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Texas A&M University and continues to write articles for professional journals. Once we started talking about this book, she was eager to get started. And since I was looking for a new project, we made a good team. For the better part of a year, Renate and Patricia met every Friday afternoon, often starting right after lunch and working until supper. We made a list of topics that we wanted to cover, and our plan of action emerged from there, says Patricia. Renate and I each have different strengths, but we found that our ideas and philosophies complemented each other. She wrote most of the chapters dealing with activities and clubs, while I took the chapters about religion and spirituality. The pair used those Friday afternoon meetings to hash out the logistics of their book and review each other s writing. They agreed not to name Eagle s Trace in the book nor to use the last names of the people they featured.

Living, breathing characters

Teeming with anecdotes from life at the community,A Unique Generationintroduces readers to a cast of characters who all actually live at Eagle s Trace. From tai chi to cocktail parties, Renate and Patricia offer a glimpse into the activities and people who breathe life into the Erickson Living community in West Houston. The book concludes with a list of factors to consider when selecting a retirement community. Shirley Walters, who lives down the hall from Renate, lent her artistic talents to the project. She designed the cover art as well as the inside illustrations. Shirley captured the spirit of the community with her artwork, says Patricia. Her pictures brought our words to life.

Getting published

Once they completed the manuscript, Renate and Patricia began looking for a publisher. I spoke to one publisher who told me it would be four months before he could even look at our book, says Renate. We simply didn t want to wait that long, so we went the self-publishing route. The book, published by AuthorHouse, has been well received at Eagle s Trace. Most people who read it tell us it is fun to identify each resident portrayed in the book, says Renate. Kevin [Knopf, executive director at Eagle s Trace] liked the book so much he arranged for a book signing. There is a tremendous satisfaction in creating something of lasting value, adds Patricia. We set out to change some misconceptions about the 70-plus generation, and I think we accomplished that. A Unique Generationis available in paperback and e-book format through and