Lillian Brummet [lillianbrummet]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I have in my possession one of the first books that I remember from my childhood, while I am sure there were many more before that I had seen or had read to me. This book was saved by my mother from her own childhood, and I received it with her possessions as the executrix of her estate. I treasure this book like no other. It is about a chicken who lives in a cottage and is hunted by foxes, who she outwits and continues to live humbly and happily in her busy way of life. The binding is falling apart, so I keep it in a ziplock bag to keep it safe.
I began to feel very comfortable with the pen early in life, my earliest recollection of this is elementary school where my short stories would be read to classrooms and moved my teachers to tears. I often wrote of sad characters, shedding insight as to why they looked or acted a certain way.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I tend to write in non-fiction, how-to and advice genres - although I have several unpublished fiction stories in my files. To date in my 11 year career as a writer I've done pieces on the environment, the writing career, book promotion, interviews, and assignments from publications as well. I have 3 books published, manage a blog, own a bi-weekly newsletter and host a radio show. Our site is getting converted over so that we can extend our career through e-commerce and setting up affiliate opportunities. Following this we re releasing our print and e-books in audio formats. Dave and I also have numerous projects that are waiting to be released as time allows.
The best way to find our work is through our site: www.brummet.ca
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I am currently working on the new Trash Talk e-book series so I'll share a little about what I'm doing here and now. I start out in the morning, early, with a strong cup of coffee or something hot beside me while I take the time to give the project an overview - reading what I produced yesterday, gleaning it for errors or areas where it could use improvement... and then set up an agenda for the day. I'll look at what stage I am at, do whatever research is necessary, and then off I go. Because this is a revision of an earlier published book (in print) I am already working on a developed manuscript that just needs updating and new data inserted.
My day usually starts with managing the main blog, confirming interviews or other media exposure has been promoted fully, and then tackle the emails - which can take several hours. After a break, when I rest my eyes and stretch my bones, I will then work on any writing project or upcoming media exposure that is under a deadline of some sort. After this has been dealt with I'll start on projects that are more flexible, such as the next book's manuscript.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
A great writer with incredible skill in forming words together in a streamlined manor, evoking emotions from the readers... this can be one of the most intimidating things for me. It makes me feel so inadequate and afraid of what my limitations might be. However, I have found that since I became a writer I read differently - I am more aware of the craft, the style, the use of language, and learn with each writer I am exposed to. After being a book reviewer for several years, I became more interested in the reasons behind the book, the message the author was trying to relay, to construction of the book and the ethics of the publishers. So now, the reading experience has expanded much farther than just enjoying the ride. When I find a book I enjoy, I don't like to be interrupted and would rather just ignore life until the last page has been turned.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Passion for the message a writer is trying to relay to the reader is important. Research into their genre or topic is vital, and creative use of language is helpful. Speaking to the audience, not AT them is probably the most important, and difficult, task a writer faces. Using language that suits the audience and feels right to the author at the same time can be a tender balance.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
First, since most of my published work is how-to and interview genres
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I am a seeker, an observer - looking for answers as to why things are the way they are and how they can be improved. So yes, writing is always a form of therapy for me. I learn from each interview, each article assignment, each book, each new technology in the publishing industry - therefore writing is also like taking an ongoing a university course. It challenges me to learn and improve every day, and I like that.
Poetry was, and continues to be, a form of therapy for me since it was through poetry that I was able to deal with the anger, hate, shame, and other emotions that come from a broken, abusive home-life in childhood and as a youth struggling to survive in this society. Today poetry helps me celebrate nature and explore the music in language, and to express my passion for making a difference every day.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Absolutely - reader feed-back is essential to a writer. We learn what they like, what they don't like... our work, our passion is validated - someone read it and had thoughts stimulated by our work - that is an amazing thought... that a writer can change the world, change society, just by sharing ideas, concepts and knowledge.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Dave and I have won numerous awards for our writing and for the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio show - we've been recognized as community heroes and have been acknowledged by numerous green organizations for our work. Dave has entered and won prizes in photo contests, and very early in my writing life I had several poems with awards through contests.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Yes, most definitely! I've shared them with my late mother in the past... but her feedback was always too positive :) It is better, I found, to find someone who will critique your work. My husband, and partner in all things, is a writer too and is very good at proofreading. His input into my work is always helpful; he'll have a thought I might not have explored on the topic or will notice a blatant error that I missed during the writing process. And I will do the same for him. It is very helpful to have a partner to do this with.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think that finding one's voice evolves as we grow, as we change and evolve as a human being. Each new experience affects us in numerous ways and as such we are constantly changing. My voice changes too. I started out wanting to change the way society was seeing "waste", to look at this as a "resource" that creates jobs and saves the individual money too. ...Then I wanted to share my poetry, in hopes that it would help other people struggling with inner angst, who are lost and looking for some kind of purpose in life. ...Then I was inspired to share our knowledge about the publishing industry and offer a guide for authors to develop their own marketing plan for each book they write. Right now we have been working at releasing all these books in e-book format, in revised editions, to reach the growing e-reader audience. I have a gardening book, and the partner project to this is a recipe book based on the harvests from our gardens... and another poetry book that are both ready to for me to work on. Dave has several short novels he's working on... So we are always looking for the next project, the next journey.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Self-discipline is vital in this career. We can always be distracted by visitors, phones ringing, children crying, laundry buzzers going off, dishes needing to be done... and so on. The hard thing is to set aside all of these things and write. Some people have to actually schedule in the hours for writing and lock the door to the rest of the household in order to get it done. For me, it is a matter of scheduling time off. I can hardly stop myself from writing and have so many projects I'd love to get completed. Promotions, which take up most of the writer's time, is something that I really enjoy doing and because one has to promote all the time, finding time to actually work on a project can be frustrating. Finding a balance is the key, between being self-disciplined to get projects and promotions done, and allowing some time off as well.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I have an office - a real office, in my home. This has only office equipment, writer related materials and reference books and so forth. It is not a play room where other things can be found, but a professional area where Dave and I work. We each have our own computer now, which is helpful, and share the rest of the equipment. We'll wear headphones or earplugs if other things are going on that are distracting.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write most projects via the keyboard and computer, but things that are emotional for me are usually written with a pen and some scrap paper... I would imagine that this is because projects involve outlines, notes and research - manuscript development and so on. Whereas emotional pieces are coming from the heart and the pen can hardly move fast enough sometimes to put it all down in time. Memoirs, poetry, lyrics... these are all written by pen. Later, of course, they will be transcribed to the computer and placed in the appropriate file folder for safe keeping. Dave does back up our computer every once in a while so we are assured that most of our work will be safe if something happens to the computer.
I try not to print things unless I have to, and when I do I always print on recycled content paper and use both sides of each sheet of paper. I really feel that our offices can be run so much more cost effectively when we do things like this, and the environment benefits as well.
I enjoy the grammar and spell check options on the computer, but these are not 100% fool-proof. One must re-read a written piece many times to make sure mistakes have not been made.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
a blog: http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com
a twitter account: www.twitter.com/brummet
a Linkedin account: http://linkedin.com/ldbrummet
a facebook account: http://facebook.com/lillian.brummet
a myspace account: http://www.myspace.com/canadianauthor
a website: www.brummet.ca
& a radio show: http://blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions
I use one of our publisher's forums to communicate with other authors, and once in a while I'll join in a writer's chat event - If I had the time, I would certainly do more with forums.
What has been your experience with publishers?
This is a big question and will be difficult to answer with a short response... I've worked with a publisher who was consistently late with the royalty payments, was terrible at communication and didn't fulfill the contract... so we had to leave them. Breaking the contract was not difficult due to the circumstances. I've worked with another publisher who fulfilled every aspect of their contract, responds well to communications and offered some marketing advice, along with some limited marketing services... but they set their prices high and they have had some internal disputes with Amazon and another distributor. These disputes and high prices make the books hard to sell. Our contract with this publisher is nearly up so we intend on having all our books in other formats with other publishers soon. One other publisher we are working with is phenomenal about communications, availability and royalty statements, however their services are limited and they require financial investment from authors to reach out to other distribution opportunities. We are currently exploring e-books, audio books, DVD formats and affiliate marketing options.
What are you working on now?
We, my husband and I, are currently re-writing and revising the Trash Talk book (which was based on my column, by the same name) as an e-book series. The first book in this series has already been released, and the second will follow soon. Trash Talk is about recognizing the value of every day actions - we teach the 4-r's of waste management (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and explain the benefits of each step along the way. We offer inspiring quotes, resources and stats that show how we can save money or reduce the impact on the planet with these very simple changes in our lives. - find out more at: www.brummet.ca
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Keep those old stories, projects, notes and half-written articles. You never know when you might come back to them and they might be the key for your new character, or fill in the empty spot in your novel... Or you might use them as they were originally intended to be, a stand-alone project, when you have grown into the piece. Sometimes, as writers, we might come across a great idea but have not yet grown as writer enough to make that piece into what we see in our minds. Sometimes it is best to set it aside until we have the knowledge or enough experience to take it up again.