Interview with Lillian Brummet – Part I

Welcome, Lillian Brummet, to Reviews and Interviews. It’s a pleasure to chat with you. [The interview is broken into three segments over the next three months.]

Let’s start with some introductory questions.

Where are you from?
Originally I was born and raised in a variety of communities in California and Nevada (USA), moved to a rural farm in BC (Canada), lived in upper BC for a few years and then was on my own in a small city by the age of 13. I lived in three or four different communities before settling down in Kelowna where I met Dave. Dave was born and raised in the Okanagan region of BC (famous for its vineries and lakes), and we lived there for about 11 years before moving to a smaller city of only 6,000 or so residents. Here we have stayed for about 10 years.

Do you write full-time?
Well… I work full time as a writer. Do I WRITE full-time? – No. (she laughs). It is a common misconception that being a writer involves writing. Far from it. First we must discover the idea, scope out the readership for that topic, hunt down magazines or publishers who are looking for written work in those genres… query them, and all the interaction in setting things up with them. Then you research and write the topic, edit, proofread and submit for rewrites… which you then do. And after all this is done – the real work begins! Especially in the case of books. For authors/poets we have to continually market the book – actively seek out publicity every day for the life of the contract that we have with that book. So what I mean by this is, if we have a contract for 7 years with a publisher for the first edition of the book… we need a marketing plan that will last 7 years. If we decide to take that book further with revised or new editions, we will have to take that into account as well. For freelancers, as each job is confirmed we begin looking for the next job – why? Because when a project is completed and submitted the author doesn’t actually receive payment for it until it is published – which can be 3-9 months after the editor receives the completed article. Therefore you must have exceptional office skills and the self-discipline to have up-to-date records and take the time for follow-up activities.

If you have a non-writing job, would you tell us a little bit about it?
I don’t have a job beyond promoting our work and writing – however, Dave does. His income is what keeps the household going through the slow sales periods that every writer is familiar with. The place that he works at does a very interesting thing with old mine slag – they make insulation out of it. Apparently this is an incredibly safe insulation that is being used in submarines and marine boats as well as average everyday building construction or pipe insulation. It is not a job he loves doing; it is hard work that involves long hours and shift work – but it is necessary to make things run smooth at home.

What made you decide to tackle the genre(s) you write in?
After having survived an abusive childhood, being on my own at just over 13-years old, having put myself through school and taken some college courses – I eventually ended up running my own business for about 6 years before a really bad car accident put me in physiotherapy full-time for over a year. I had chronic depression then; I felt like my whole life all the work all the pain all the recovery was for nothing because all I had worked for was so easily swept away. I also became very aware of my own mortality, which is not something one usually considers when they are in their mid-twenties. So with the life-altering injuries that would plague me from then on (mostly headaches and muscle spasms) I had to look at a new career… a new life. And this time – I wanted it to mean something. And so it has.

Now we’ll focus a bit on your published writing.

Please tell us about Trash Talk – An Inspirational Guide to Saving Time and Money through Better Waste and Resource Management.
Trash Talk began as a column that was published internationally every two weeks from 1999 to 2004, and then intermittently until early 2009. The book, by the same name, was released in 2004 in paperback format and the publisher did a special limited hardcover edition in 2009. We hope to see that happen again! In the meantime the paperback book continues to receive sales from all over the planet. We decided to release this book as a new e-book series (2-books) with totally updated, revised information and many new chapters – we also have a huge resource section for the closing of the e-books for people to network or access more information. The release for the e-book series is expected to be January 2010.

What inspired you to write this book?
Initially, the idea began when I saw two things happening around me. Let me share a story of walking down the street to see someone’s garbage bags that had been put out long before the pick-up time and because of this were torn overnight by wildlife or pets in the neighborhood… and there mixed in with the waste were returnable bottles and cans, recyclables by the pound, and most of the waste I was seeing there was compostable… all of which could be diverted from the landfill so easily. Of course this is a single scenario to show that there is a lack of participation… but here is another. One day, one of my wealthy clients (from my previous business) said to me she wouldn’t dare be seen taking in returnable containers for a deposit, she would be afraid as well to purchase Halloween costumes at a used shop in case someone she is associated with would see her… I saw this is false pride. Ironically, this same person (and yes, this is a real person) insisted that her blue box recycling bin was placed where all the neighbors could see that she was actively participating – because THAT was “in” or “cool”. So by these two examples I just shared, the thing I wanted to convey the most was that I was seeing a real need for people to view waste differently.

There were several reasons why we decided to write the book, which I think are best summed up by the following excerpt from the Introduction section of the e-book series: “When society is constantly bombarded with negative information about the environment, finances and natural resources, individuals begin to feel powerless, and they might even fall into apathy. Certainly, especially these days with the widening gap between the rich and poor, we are seeing that a declining number of us can afford to donate cash or time to a cause. However, we can choose to step away from feeling overwhelmed by the immense environmental problems our world faces and realize that each and every one of us can do something to help our world – starting right where we are, right now.

Dr. Jane Goodall’s E-newsletter (2004) reported that 66% of Americans polled would do more to conserve energy and protect the environment if they knew it had a measurable impact. Psychologists have long known that simply performing one small step will aid in defining a positive outlook on life and will inspire further participation from the individual.”

Did you enjoy the research process? What did it entail?
Yes, the writing process was immensely enjoyable – this is a subject I knew well and had many connections in the waste management industry and so there was rarely a time when I searched for content or struggled for resources. The Internet played a huge role in this book, as it does in most aspects of any writer’s life, but proved especially useful in finding environmental groups, networking with people who reuse their “waste” prior to recycling, people who are interested in gardening issues or water conservation, etc.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part without a doubt for this, the first book that Dave and I wrote, was the hardly-durable waiting periods and the seemingly never-ending research that had to be done. The marketing is by far the longest, hardest chore of all – since an author must do some form of marketing every single day, it can be draining at times.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what was it?
Trash Talk’s publication was a new experience for us, since we were freelance writers in the past, and so we learned every step along the way. Sometimes we felt incredibly overwhelmed by all that had to be done, and we had to do it ourselves since we did not have the budget to hire help.

And to wrap up…

Would you like to share a little about your blog with the audience?
Sure, I’d love to – Thank you. Well, the Brummet’s Conscious Discussions Blog – is where you will find environmentally-conscious tips for every-day living, quote of the day and many resources for green living. You will also find interesting views into the world of writing, literacy, updates on the Conscious Discussions and Authors Read radio shows, prize contests and more: http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com

Would you like to give a little information about your radio shows?
Ok – Conscious Discussions Talk Radio (www.brummet.ca/conscious.html) began back in 2007 on the Blogtalk Radio Station – which is now the #1 online talk radio station in the world. Conscious Discussions has now grown to air several times a week – on Tuesday and Thursdays I interview interesting individuals from around the globe who have found a way to make a positive difference. Every other Sunday offers Positive Eco-news Segments and in the growing season (April-September) I also offer a special episode called Sunday Gardening, where I talk about sustainable, organic gardening using bio-intensive, inter-cropping methods and open-pollinated crops. Listeners may hear me speaking about pollination issues one day and then tune in to hear me discuss growing a particular plant variety or giving composting advice the next time. It varies with each show.

Do you have a website where writers can learn more about you and your writing?
Yes, it is: www.brummet.ca – this site has links to everything we do, excerpts from all of our books that you can access for free to see if it appeals to you or not… you’ll find articles, resource links and much more there.

People can easily contact us via that same website address – just click on the “contact” link and follow the instructions on how to email us from there. Its really very easy and we love to hear from people.

Thank you for your time in answering my questions.
It has been a sincere pleasure, thank you for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful project!

Look for Part II of this interview on February 10.

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