Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed business woman, blogger and author Lillian Brummet about her writing partnership, her career, and what inspired her latest book, From One Small Garden.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Well, my age puts me in the early-50’s and I have had the honor of spending 30 of those years (so far) with my wonderful co-writing and business co-owner husband – Dave. My days are a delicate balance between home, family and work. During the days I manage household duties, caring for the fur-kids (3 dogs, 1 cat) and managing the office. I also do what I can to manage the gardens and yard – which involves anything from weeding, starting and caring for transplants, processing garden harvests or shoveling snow.
On a personal level I describe myself as a “sensitive”, both physically and mentally. I protect my sensitivity by avoiding exposure to negatives including chemicals, toxins and fragrances, magazines, news programs, negative situations or people. My husband would say I am organized, often TOO nice, and generous. Other adjectives that might describe me are: tenacious, shy, anxious, friendly, kind, creative, motivated, thoughtful, an over-thinker and determined.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
A column I was writing at the time – Trash Talk – was picked up internationally and I found that the word count limited the amount of information I could share about any one topic of waste management (reduce, rent, refuse, reconsider, recycle, return, rot, repurpose, reuse). At first, I viewed this as a good thing because it meant I could write many articles on one aspect and still have a lot of content to spare. As time went on I found this limitation a bit frustrating… and the idea struck that I had enough content already produced that could transfer to book format. Dave dove into this project with me and we created the first book in ’99. By 2012 it evolved into a 2-book series Trash Talk – It’s Easy To Be Green. I was seeing a great deal of apathy happening because people just did not realize the measurable, positive impact that small actions and conscious choices have.
Once the book was published I was hearing from readers how excited they were to take the tips to heart, how it gave them hope and how our published work influenced them. It is so inspiring to hear that they saved a lot of money, began gardening or shopping local, or increased their enthusiasm for volunteering and making a difference.
When did you take a step to start writing?
In elementary school, I learned that writing impacts others in surprising ways. Even as a child I would observe and feel compassionate empathy for other people, and this was shown by a short story I wrote about an elderly woman, alone – perhaps widowed, who dressed in gaudy bright-colored clothing, had big silvery-hair and wore heavy, colorful make-up as a way to brighten her day. I wrote as if watching her get ready, having memories as she dressed and put on make up and then went out on the street, where people pointed and gestured and giggled. It made my teacher cry and that freaked me out! I didn’t know what to do with it and I became a little frightened of writing for a while.
Later, in high school some of my poetry and writings were submitted to some school thing or other but I tried to ignore the whole situation because it was too much for me to process at the time. As a young adult, my poetry won a few contests, were published here and there… but it wasn’t until after I was in a car accident in my late 20’s, which led me to reevaluate my life, that I turned to writing in a serious way.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
The first book took about a year to compile the draft manuscript and subsequent publisher queries, and another 2 years before we were holding the published book in our hands.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
The cookbook, From One Small Garden – Over 300 Delicious Nutritious Recipes, began in 2000 with the casual compiling of our favorite creations and later evolved to include a few family and friend recipes. It was worked on, then set aside dozens of times in our 2.5 decades in this writing career before we completed a draft manuscript a couple of years ago.
It was set aside a few times while we dealt with the estate management of a Dave’s Dad, and then we finally released the finished product in 2021. It was officially available to purchase March 18, but we waited to receive the proof copies (to make sure the book had as few errors as possible) before starting on the promotion campaign in Feb 2021. Employing our Purple Snowflake Marketing techniques, we’ve had excellent exposure in various media, support from local stores, non-profit collaboration for a fundraiser, working with the local farmer’s market and much more. It has been a very busy, exciting, crazy ride.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write From One Small Garden?
There were several reasons for making the cookbook available to the public. Both Dave and my parents, most of our aunts/uncles and some of our great friends are no longer with us. Their passing motivated us to include our versions of their recipes in our book… the special dishes we all enjoyed and reminds us of them whenever we serve it. It is our way of honoring them.
This is more than just another cookbook filled with delicious recipes. It encourages readers to make the conscious choice to shop from local food producers, start gardening and find interesting ways to deal with all that harvest. This simple step helps people reduce the environmental impact of their menu plan (packaging, fossil fuels, etc.). The book offers nutritional information, shares stories and memories, includes historical and agricultural tid-bits, and lists numerous energy saving tips.
Readers will find ways of reducing food waste and learn water-wise tips. It also addresses packaging waste… we show people they can make their own hair spray with natural products, mix their own chicken coating and taco seasoning and more – and never have to throw out all those bottles and envelopes and packaging again.
What were your biggest challenges with writing From One Small Garden?
Dave would probably agree that the formatting was a challenge. Each recipe having a different length, along with a huge amount of extra information for Dave to insert where he could. We decided to refrain from including photos inside the book, keeping the price affordable – and with the price set at $20 (US), I think we accomplished that. I think Dave had fun designing the cover though. I personally found the descriptive intro to a recipe sometimes challenging, but lucky me – I have a co-writer who picks up where I drop off.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
“Slow down“, I would say, “and enjoy the whole experience. Research every step of the journey. Learn different aspects of each step along the way so that you are not only better prepared next time, but so that you will be able to ease the process for the people you work with in the future.”
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Oh yes! One might think that after releasing the cookbook and the revised edition of our Purple Snowflake Marketing guidebook for writers earlier this year that we would be too exhausted and ready to take a break. That is not the case! I’m super excited to begin work on a trilogy of Dave’s late-father’s lifetime of written and photographic works: Frank’s Tales (memoirs and short stories), Frank’s Ponderings (poetry and photos) and Franks Wanderings (photo collections: quirks he noticed, old churches, etc.). After this we have a backyard garden/small hobby farm advice book and then a collection of our short stories to work on.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Brummet Media Group: www.BrummetMedia.ca
Amazon’s Author Page