Award-winning author, blogger, and former radio host Lillian Brummet joins us today to share her experiences running Brummet Media Group with her husband, Dave. The couple has published six non-fiction books and has another in the works.
Hi Lillian. Can you begin by telling us about yourself and your background?
My husband of thirty years and I are in our 50s and reside in our dream location, the Kootenay region of BC, Canada. Dave was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley in BC, Canada, in a family of four kids. I always saw his as a “white picket fence family”—you know, not moving around, parents still together, he knew his cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. A pretty stable upbringing. I started out in California, moved over to Nevada, then to BC, then all the way up to the Arctic Circle, and then back to BC. My mom had four husbands. My brothers were both on their own at sixteen. I was on my own at just over thirteen. So, Dave and I had very different upbringings.
What is your educational/career background?
Having to pay rent and the basic bills and feed myself at thirteen meant I had to work. Luckily, I was already working when I found myself on my own so young. At sixteen, I was caught living on my own and sent to a foster home for a little over a year. The foster mom, Jan, got me in a Girls Attendance Program and worked out a deal with me to go back to school while I kept a part-time job and some independence. At nineteen, I took a job as a drywall mudder apprentice in the Arctic Circle but ran back to BC in just under a year—so cold up there! In my early twenty’s, I earned my grade 12 (University level with those extra heavy courses) and then took hospitality management, business management, writing, marketing, permaculture, and food preservation courses.
How did you get into writing (music, radio, etc.)? Why are you drawn to it?
Writing began as a therapy to deal with raw emotions, but it later developed into a career. I’ve always felt compelled to use the pen (and later, the keyboard). It is my comfort zone. After taking a course on the business of writing, I was able to get a few pieces published, then a few more, and eventually worked for a few newsletters and magazine publications. My writing career grew one step at a time. My husband’s go-to has always been music. For me, the lyrics of the song are very important. Dave doesn’t pay as much attention to that; he hears all the intricacies of the drums and bass and the technical stuff. As a child, Dave saw a parade with some really good drummers, and he was hooked! His supportive parents allowed him to have a drum kit, and his friends were also budding musicians. Eventually, he toured BC, had steady gigs, did a stint as a house band, became a popular studio-drummer, and is now a drum teacher who also repairs and produces his own instruments.
How does the idea of living “green” fit into your values and message?
It is all about consciousness. When one becomes educated about an issue, their awareness develops, and, with that, comes a sense of responsibility. People become more conscious of their behaviour and the decisions they make.
There’s a lot of negative information out there, so people develop apathy, feel like they can’t make a difference, can’t donate money to their community, don’t see hope for their future, and figure why try? The fact is that every moment is an opportunity to make a difference.
What overall message do you hope to bring to your audience? What response do you hope to inspire?
The focus of everything we do is to empower others to become more proactive and to help them leave a lasting, positive legacy—to help them realize that with each new breath we are presented with an opportunity to make a difference.
It might sound flighty or fanciful, but on our radio show, we have heard from listeners and readers who were influenced by our values. Our work has helped people commit to recycling programs, to reduce costs by finding ways of repurposing or reusing “trash,” and to reduce the wasteful use of water and energy. We have shown people how to take the story they have worked so hard on and share it with the world through our self-help guide for authors on a shoestring budget. We have encouraged people to volunteer. We have helped non-profits network and learn from one another. We have encouraged gardening. Once people realize that composting keeps organics out of the landfill (where they do more damage to the environment than the cars on our roads), they begin to create beautiful soil instead. We have heard from mothers of victims of violence, men who couldn’t speak about abuse, and others who have been able to move to the next stage of healing because of our work. We get amazing feedback from our drum students who tell us the wonderful ways music has affected their lives.
How did you learn/perfect your craft? Why is it important to you to help writers improve?
It is vital to have a love of learning in any career one chooses. I read every book I could get my hands on, even the out-dated ones. I listened to talk radio shows, studied author interviews, and took courses. But I’m always learning. Things are always changing, evolving; one method stops while a new one begins, so even when you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. (Ha ha). With writing, there are just so many aspects to it. Like, you could focus on learning proofreading, editing, copy-editing, copywriting, copyrights, grant writing, perfecting the query, marketing and promotional activities, speaking, and new business tax laws.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about the writing business?
The biggest lessons for me come from my ability to deal with surprises somewhat gracefully. Like, when you forget to renew the website and the website disappears, but you didn’t realize it until you find out from someone else who’s been wondering what happened. That’s fun. Or a computer fails, and you realize things weren’t backed up. Joy. So, next time you have a back up hard drive, but it burns out too. Double joy. Then your printer fails. Deadlines approach right when unexpected visitors come into town. You’re doing a live radio interview when a delivery person rings the doorbell and the dogs start barking. I learned to have contingency plans, to make signs that I put on the gate when doing interviews, to back-up stuff regularly . . . and to be patient with the process.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and publishing, and how do you cope?
Patience is something I am always developing. Things come up, and I’ll feel like my efforts are being undermined. It can be super frustrating to have priorities come up that force me to set aside a project, sometimes for years. I’ve learned that it’s okay, normal, and expected. The trick is to relax, accept it, and move forward.
Do you have another job or do you write full-time? Other hobbies or interests?
I am also a homemaker. So, I have to balance that between assisting Dave’s activities in the studio and writing. I have an active blog that has posts going out almost every day. Promotions for the business, our services, the blog, and our books, and doing interviews like this one. It becomes a bit of a balancing act.
Do you produce books on your own or do you have a team? How did you develop your support team?
Originally, we went with traditional publishers who had a special team for each step of the way. These days, we self-publish via Smashwords and Amazon Kindle Direct. The hubby and I split up the various business activities.
What advice would you give to aspiring, creative people?
Learn as much as you can about running a business through local employment centres and library books. Watch for articles and interviews with people who specialize in a similar field as you. Learn about steps they took and about their successes and mistakes and what resources they recommend. Visit their websites and try to figure out why they chose that layout, appearance, those images, etc. Check out their media pages to see where they’ve gotten exposure, as maybe the listed media would be of interest to you, too.
Can you tell us about your future goals?
Currently, we are addressing the minor tasks we have to do over at Amazon’s Kindle Direct. The publisher said the transfer would be easy, but we’ve had some glitches, so that is the goal at the moment. However, the final edits to the cookbook draft manuscript are complete and are in Dave’s capable hands. He is amazing at tweaking the wording, proofreading, formatting, and copy-editing. He also handles all the images, book cover design, and more. So, he’s got a lot on his plate now, while I peer over his shoulder asking if it’s done yet (ha ha).
Anything else you’d like to share with us.
I’d love for your readers to check out the Brummet’s Conscious Blog for helpful resources and information. We accept queries for author interviews and poetry and article submissions. I also offer product reviews, for those of your readers who have items for sale.
How can readers contact you?