Tell our readers about yourself and where you live.
Well, I’m a 43-year-old woman with a passion for animals and the environment. I love playing in the dirt (a.k.a. gardening) and enjoy being in nature. I’ve been married for 23 years (coming up in April 2013) and just moved to our dream location about a year ago – Creston, BC (Canada). Creston is a small city located in the middle of the Kootenay region, famous for the wildlife, mountains, golfing, ski resorts, lakes and artisans and tourists. We wanted to move here some 15 years ago, but life kept us in other locations until recently. After experiencing the grief of losing family members we realized that waiting to live our dreams when we retire just wasn’t good enough. So we packed up our things, sold our house and took the leap. It was a little scary at first, but we’ve settled in nicely and love our new life here. Every day when walking the dogs around the neighbourhood I marvel at the stunning beauty around us, and come back home with a renewed sense of how lucky we are to be here.
Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing?
I started writing professionally back in ’99 after having been involved in a life-changing accident (3 car pile up, I was in the middle) that had me rethinking my entire lifestyle. You see, I had spent most of my life just trying to fit in, to be normal, acceptable - and realized that all that added up to nothing at all. I was miserable, I was empty, exhausted. Something had to change. Once I realized that life could be blown out like a candle I had this craving to leave a legacy now, and to make a difference with every breath I took. That is what really started my career off, this passion for making a difference. I had always written, it was something I could turn to for healing, for therapy – and so it was something that really stood out for me when I evaluated where I wanted to go in the future. The first project, after learning the business of being a writer, was to write an article about the value of recycling… and that lead to a column called Trash Talk, which was published for about 6 or 7 years prior to evolving into the first edition of the book. Now Trash Talk is a 2-book series; the first focuses on describing the importance and the incredible benefits from the R’s of waste management (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle/repurpose, rot) with a special emphasis on reuse and repurpose. The second book focuses on reduce – so it talks about energy conservation, water use, composting, and so on.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it what would you say?
Purple Snowflake Marketing – How To Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd (378 pages) is the latest release – now in the 3rd edition. This book acts like a step-by-step guide for writers, helping them see their career as a business, avoid common pitfalls, create an efficient marketing plan for each book they write, and closes with a thousand or more resources. I also just finished revising the Jumpstart For Writers booklet (only 40 pages), that offers encouraging tips, inspiring quotes, and links to incredibly helpful interviews - all mixed in with an array of articles that we have written on the world of writing. Jump Start for Writers can be considered a precursor to the Purple Snowflake Marketing book. We’ll soon have this booklet available in e-book format on our site for .99 cents, and intend to use it for contests and give-aways.
I have 3 other manuscripts on the back burner waiting for me to have the time. These are a 2nd book of poetry, a gardening book that offers 3 generations of gardening advice, and a recipe book based on harvests from the garden.
Did you learn anything from writing your books?
I think a writer learns something new with each book they write… learning more about the craft itself, or the publishing industry, or different formats they are using for each book, or developing skills that improve their productivity. With Trash Talk I learned that people really do care about the environment, they really are suffering financially and can use the ideas to deal with both these issues – but that they are reluctant to take the time to learn, they want things to be easy, they don’t want to have to make changes. So I learned that change has to be so appealing that they see it as worthwhile. With Towards Understanding I realized the power of poetry and how it can be used to help others find expression for their own hopes, dreams and pain. With Purple Snowflake Marketing I refined my organization skills and by putting my own business plan and marketing information in the form of a guide, I was able to improve my own efforts as a writer. The book is something I use as a tool in my own career.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
Wow! Now that is a difficult question for me to answer since each book really is my passion. For business I’d have to say the marketing book; for leaving a legacy I’d have to say the green living series - but for personal fulfilment – that would have to be the poetry book.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing?
When working on a manuscript, so much of myself is poured out on to those pages that I feel absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. I need distractions to be at a minimum – so Dave will be sent to the downstairs office, both the phone and the TV are turned off (we’re not big TV people), and any demanding chores have to be done first. I can’t be working on something and thinking about the bread I have to bake next, guilt from neglecting the dogs, or piles of dishes needing to be done. At the same time, one has to find a balance and let some things go undone. I like to have some ambient music going in the background sometimes – no beat, no rhythm, or lyrics. I love my coffee, and usually have a cup beside me, but it often goes ignored as I disappear into words and has to be rewarmed in the microwave at least once. I’m definitely a morning person and tend to burn out by 2-3 in the afternoon, so I try to get my writing projects, interviews, blog posts, etc. completed before then.
Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?
Scared! I was worried no one would like it, that it wasn’t worthy of attention, that I would be criticized and being sensitive – couldn’t handle it. I was also scared of success, of what that might mean and how it might affect my life. The first few interviews and media events were nerve wracking, but with exposure to this they became second nature – I actually look forward to them now.
Has anything surprised you about your writing life?
Having been a business owner in the past and had supervisor positions before that, along with taking a course on the business side of writing, I knew what I was getting into. The biggest surprise initially was how long everything took. At first I felt so alone, so misunderstood by family and friends who didn’t understand about running a business or the craft of writing. Today I am occasionally surprised by the incredible generosity and support I receive from the media contacts, from readers, and from family.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time is my greatest challenge. With 5 books out now, many of them in 3rd editions, I am constantly doing marketing activities while keeping an active presence online and keeping in touch with networking contacts. There’s always some new email coming in with a query to be on our radio show or blog, someone wants an article for a publication, somebody else is scheduling an interview with us. Managing the blog posts, updates to the website and keeping up with hosting and producing the radio show eats up a lot of time, up to 15 hours a week. I love doing those activities, but sometimes I wonder if the time they absorb is worth it. I have, as I said, 3 other manuscripts are just waiting for me to be able to get to them. And there is the on-going pressure of feeling like there never is enough marketing or promotion activities going on – by this I mean that I have files of opportunities that I don’t have the time to pursue.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m tenacious, and loathe to let any opportunity go by. I keep long lists of to-do’s and marketing opportunities that I add to regularly. I have a hard time letting go of the office, and this can be irritating to my husband who wants to go places or have a day off. Even if I leave the office I’m thinking about it, making lists of ideas as they come to me – and struggle to not talk about it during a day off.
Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
~ Woodrow Wilson
"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
~ Robert Kennedy
“Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that hope lies in a nation; others in a person. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every person, on the foundation of his or her own sufferings and joys, builds for all.”
~ Albert Cammus – The Artist and His Time
~ Award winning author Lillian Brummet produces and hosts the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio show, and manages the Brummet’s Conscious Blog (http://www.brummet.ca)