Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Beneath the Covers,Past
A Romance Column
By Carol Ann Culbert Johnson

An Interview with Author Lillian Brummet

Carol: Tell us something about yourself.

Lillian: Well, I was born in California and moved with my mother and brothers to Canada before I was a teenager. I met and married my husband Dave, in BC where he was born and raised, and where we reside today.

Carol: What is the name of your current book?

Lillian: My husband is currently editing the manuscript for an e-book entitled Purple Snowflake Book Marketing- How to Make Your Book Stand Out in a Crowd - it is a guide to help authors get noticed.

Carol: What is your current book about?

Lillian: Purple Snowflake Book Marketing is based on 3 years of extensive research, advice from numerous book promoters and authors, along with hands-on experience gained while running home-based businesses and marketing our books. The e-book offers 21 chapters (including the Introduction and Appendix). This e-book creates a way for authors to utilize frugal and effective ideas to market their books with the click of their mouse. We are nearly finished editing the manuscript and hope to have it available by Summer 2007.

Carol: List your other books.

Lillian: My husband and I co-wrote our first book, Trash Talk, which was based on a column I began a number of years ago. You see, when looking at society there is an obvious trend – people are constantly bombarded with negative information about the environment and resources. Feeling powerless because we cannot afford to donate cash or time to a cause, the immense environmental problems our world faces become overwhelming – leading towards inactivity. Trash Talk embarks on frugal and conscious living techniques for the individual. We focus on the reuse of "waste" materials and reducing the consumption of resources. Trash Talk is written to empower people to feel more positive about their worth as individuals in a hectic, expensive, environmentally stressed world. We focus on changing people's mindset to a more open, hopeful and proactive one. Not by finger-pointing at corporations and governments, but by starting in our own homes, at our own desks.

Towards Understanding was the second book project Dave and I worked on together. For this book, Dave was the editor and provided the concept and image for the cover design. Towards Understanding is a collection of 120 non-fiction poems written in chronological order. It is a story of survival, of breaking the chains of inner demons, finding value and purpose in life and growing towards understanding - but not quite reaching it. The poems also embrace the environment and question society. Towards Understanding will reach today's female audience because it is a true story of a young woman growing through childhood trauma, being independent at age 13, moving through healing and finding self worth. Readers will witness the changes, as I become aware of the value of my life and fall deeply in love with a wholesome man. Finally, able to see beyond myself, I start to question society and endeavor to understand others. Through poetry, I learn who I am and discover a love for nature and a dedication to the health of the Earth. With this book, I had a lot of fun experimenting with different writing styles and altering rhythms with words.

Carol: Tell us about your journey to publication. /How long have you been writing? Why did you decide to write? /Who aspired you to write?

Lillian: When I was growing up, teachers often commented on my writing ability - and honestly, English was one of the few classes that kept me going to school when I was first on my own. I used poetry as a healing tool, a way to get the pain out where I could examine it. Eventually, prodding from friends lead me to enter a contest and then another and another… I never did win a grand prize, but my work did appear in five hardcover anthology books and several publications throughout North America. I also had the honor of attaining "Editor's Choice Award for outstanding Achievement in Poetry", not once – but twice. These small achievements and praises gave me some confidence in the quality of my work.

But what prompted me to write as a career began with a bad car accident – a three-car pile-up and I was in the middle. After a year of full-time physiotherapy, followed by a year of trying to get back to operating my business and continuing therapy, I realized I was never going to be able to continue that work full-time. Right around this time, my husband was taking a writing course and I began taking it alongside of him. Soon, my submissions were accepted and sold and a free-lance career began. That was about 8 – 9 years ago.

Carol: Who is your publisher?

Lillian: For Trash Talk and Towards Understanding, the publisher we chose to use was Publish America. For our third book, Purple Snowflake Book Marketing, we are using Four Girls Publishing, a BC-based e-book publisher.

Carol: Are you happy and satisfied with your publisher?

Lillian: I haven’t yet experienced working with Four Girls Publishing, as the book is still in the final stages of the manuscript. However, they offer exceptional promotion and royalty commission for authors. Publish America has been a steady stream of support for our first two books. Their support staff is able to respond to even the toughest questions or problems within a few days.

Carol: What do you think about self-publishing?

Lillian: I think it is just another form of publishing. Many authors are realizing that publishers don’t push their books – promotions are up to the author… and always have been. Therefore, some authors feel that getting all the sales income is better than sharing it with a publisher. Others may feel that the value of a big name traditional publisher will give them an edge in the market. But there are actually several best-selling authors out there right now that use self-publish options.

Carol: Would you self-publish?

Lillian: Only if I had the capital and resources. Consider one has to pay someone to print and format the book, attain a bar code, get an ISBN and find several distributors who would work with the title. The author would also have to pay for each copy produced, prior to sales. With this option, I would suggest that new authors hire a lawyer prior to signing a contract with a self-publisher as there are many sharks out there in the world.

Carol: There are so many new writers publishing books. What do you think of this trend of writers?

Lillian: Technology is the key. With personal home computers and laptops, people are able to follow their dreams of being a writer during leisure hours or while traveling on planes and so forth. With the Internet individuals can find the publisher they want to work with, locate book publicity companies, compare prices for promotion materials, find information about the publication process and learn ways to deal with legal issues.

So this convenience is really the key to more new authors in the industry. Also, there are more publishing opportunities for aspiring authors. Those who simply wish to leave a legacy for friends and family can now do so with very little economic hardship with a choice of self-publishing companies. This works well for those who are writing a smaller book as a promotion tool for their business services.

Carol: Who are your favorite authors?

Lillian: I am a voracious reader, I can be found with my nose in a book with every leisure moment – while eating, while brushing my teeth… even during commercials! I try not to have a favorite author; I think that it is best to keep an open mind. I don’t even look for a particular author or publishing company when I search for a new book to read. Although, I have read multiple books by one author, i.e. Tolkien or Clive Cussler.

Carol: What is your favorite book?

Lillian: I have loved so many books over the years… Second Eden, the Clan of the Cave Bear series, Tolkien’s books, Chaos Cycle, The Viking Warrior, The Sea of Trolls, Hawkwood’s Voyage, The Road of Silk, Gypsy in Amber… shall I go on? I do think, though, that my favorite book of all time would have to be Shibumi by Trevanian.

Carol: What do you want to accomplish with your books?

Lillian: Earlier when you asked me about why I began writing, I mentioned a car accident. Actually I had three. The first was a car that hit me while I was bicycling. That did some lasting damage to my left knee and elbow… the bike was okay once it was straightened out. The second was a truck that ran a stop sign and he ruined my minivan. I had a minor case of whip-lash from that. The third accident was the worst and I suffered for years with daily pain. At that point I felt like my life was going the wrong direction. I looked back at my life in disgust because I felt all my efforts, work, pain… it was all for nothing. No one would notice and no lasting benefit was left behind. I couldn’t live like that any longer. Dave and I had several heart-to-heart discussions about the meaning of our lives, what was important to us and how we mean to use the time we are given. I even wrote a short poem about it:


Locomotion keeps me moving through the confusing compulsive waves of life.
And, lost in this rush, I consume and exhaust myself for the unknown.
Feeling awfully tired, I pause - and look in at my routines in disgust.
And a desperate yearning to escape beyond the maze, and into self-sufficiency arises.

Carol: How long does it take you to write a novel?

Lillian: Trash Talk’s manuscript took just over one year to compile and edit – however it was based on the first five years of the Trash Talk column, so much of the content and research had already been done. Towards Understanding took most of my life to write. When I decided to publish the book of poetry, I had to go through about 300 poems and decide which were worthy of being included. This was a heart-wrenching emotionally-exhausting process that took about 9 months to accomplish. Purple Snowflake Book Marketing is based on many years of intensive research and hands-on experience marketing our businesses and books. The manuscript is contributed to daily, as I am always learning a new marketing idea, and has been in the works for about 8 months. I hope to see the final editing completed by November and the manuscript in the final production phases by December.

Carol: What successes has your current book done for you?

Lillian: A woman called me at home one day in tears to tell me she felt my book of poetry may just be the key to helping her 40-year-old son recover from his past. She was so hopeful and desperate. Two musician friends of ours compared my poetry to works of greats like Kim Mitchell. Our environmental book has inspired families to design contests between their children to come up with the best reuse idea. Single women with children have expressed gratefulness for our money-saving ideas.

These are successes that cannot be measured with dollar signs or fame.

Carol: What are some of the tools you use for marketing?

Lillian: Whatever we do in marketing the books, we always follow one big rule - Common Courtesy. Never make anyone work for anything. Make every option clear and easily accessible. Always follow up with your contacts with brief outlines of previous discussions so they don’t have to go looking for information. I believe that it really all boils down to deciding what would make you support that book if you were in that person’s shoes.

Carol: What is your website so readers can visit you?

Lillian: Our website URL is: At this site, we provide an extensive link page for waste and resource organizations. This site provides something for nearly everyone including teachers, parents, caregivers, frugal individuals and environmental groups. I invite your readers to visit and enjoy the free service called "Tip-of-the-Month" where they can learn and share reduction and reuse ideas. The Writing Page and the About Us page will lead to many more articles, press releases, interviews, interesting book reviews and other articles dealing with book promotion and the world of writing.

Carol: How can readers get in touch with you through email?

Lillian: Our contact information is available on the website

Carol: What are some of your favorite websites for writers?

Lillian: My very favorite website is Publish America’s author forum. There, authors share so much information that it feels like going to university at times!

Carol: Did you take any writing classes?

Lillian: Yes, sort of. My husband had enrolled in Quality of Course, which is a free-lance writing course. We took the course together, though my husband was the official student.

Carol: What motivates you to write?

Lillian: Using my life to make the world a better place - even if it is in the smallest of ways.

Carol: How do you spend your writing time?

Lillian: 50-80% of the work in writing a manuscript or article is research. After the piece is written, comes marketing – and marketing can be 90% of a writer’s life. If it is an article, a writer is looking at a few months (in total) of marketing for the one piece. For book authors, marketing continues every day for the life of the contract. For Trash Talk and Towards Understanding, this means the marketing lasts for 7 years after the book was released.

Carol: What is your favorite genre of writing?

Lillian: Non-fiction is most important and the easiest for me to work in. I have delved in a few non-fiction pieces that remain unfinished. Dave, however, has a natural talent for non-fiction and has written numerous stories that are not yet finished or published. I envy this talent greatly and hope to be inspired by Dave enough to finish my own non-fiction projects.

Carol: What is your favorite voice to write in?

Lillian: First

Carol: Where do you see yourself with your writing in five years?

Lillian: I see myself going back to writing free-lance articles. I have several folders of ideas and partially completed works that I just don’t have time for at the moment.

Carol: What advice would you give for aspiring authors?

Lillian: The best advice any author could receive is: Do your research. Whatever stage you are at, whatever you are facing – research it. Find out the details from other authors and research the person or business you hope to work with. Find out what their guidelines and policies are, make a note of the person you will be dealing with. Provide them with exact and complete information.

Secondly, keep records of your endeavors so that you can see who needs to have a follow-up letter, whether you’ve had successes or failures with that source and if you need to provide anything to them in the future.

2007 Past Columns

Lillian Brummet

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