Cherie Burbach is an author, crocheter, blogger, internet dating guru and self proclaimed geek. She is a fan of the Green Bay Packers and all things Tudor. Cherie has recently penned her first fiction novel For Those Who Knew Zach. Mrs. Burbach took time out of her busy schedule as a freelance writer to "speak" with me about her books, the art and craft of writing, her career goals and advice for aspiring authors like myself.
Cherie is the author of six books, an online columnist, and a blogger with a 20-year background in marketing and business. Her print work includes Deca Dimensions, Wisconsin Woman, Succeed Magazine, Daily Reporter, and Happen Magazine to name a few.
First I would like to thank Cherie for being here today.
The pleasure was all mine! Your questions were so great, and I had a blast answering them.
1. When did your writing career begin?
My mom says I’ve been writing as long as I could hold a pencil, and I think that best sums it up. I was just one of those kids who was always writing stories and poems. As I got older, I went into marketing so I could use my writing skills to earn a paycheck. Then I transitioned into freelance writing, which I do full-time now. I earn a living writing full time, either from freelance writing clients, blogs, or books.
2. It sounds like you are living every aspiring writers dream life. So tell me what inspires you to write?
I get inspired by things that have happened to me, news events, just about anything. I carry a notebook with me, which I have always done, and am constantly jotting down ideas for stories or books.
3. What is your daily writing routine?
I get up every day, amble down the hall, and go through my emails. I make a list of things I need to get accomplished that day, including client deadlines and my own personal writing goals. Client deadlines always come first, so my personal goals often get adjusted based on that. After going through my email, I have a writing/editorial calendar I check, which has my client projects and personal blogs, so I can keep track of where I am with assignments. Then, I look for freelance writing jobs that I update on my Working Writers blog, I hop on Facebook and Twitter, and I write. I write until lunch (and sometimes through lunch) but I also take lots of breaks during the day. I work out, play with my dog, run errands, etc. If I’m ahead on client deadlines, I work on personal blogs and other writing in the afternoon. I work until dinner time. After dinner I usually get out my laptop while I watch TV, and work on ideas, PR, social networking, or other types of promotion for my books and writing.
4. Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Well, I never write by the seat of my pants, so I guess that would make me a plotter. But the way I "plot" is different depending on what I’m writing. If I’m working on a novel, I usually know how it begins and ends, right down to the opening and closing lines. Then the novel becomes the journey how those two things meet and what kinds of characters would be involved.
For nonfiction books, I definitely outline. I like to cover all the questions readers might have, and in order to make sure I stay on track I make a rough outline before I write.
For freelance articles, I generally have an idea of what I want the article to convey. I don’t outline, but usually have a few notes I work from. Again, this depends on what types of research I’ve done, because if I need to do a lot of research, I have extensive notes I work from.
5. Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
So many favorite authors. I like Willa Cather, Elinor Lipman, Elizabeth Berg…. I adore just about every historical fiction writer there is, especially if they write in the area of Tudor fiction: Philippa Gregory, Robin Maxwell, Karen Harper…. and on and on. I’ve just started enjoying the thriller genre, and love Barry Eisler’s John Rain series. There are so many more.
6. What are your goals as a writer?
I want to create stories and books that help and entertain people. I’ve just finished two novels that I am looking for representation for, and I have several nonfiction books in the works. My overall goal as a writer, though, is just to write things that entertain, inspire, or education people in some way. Just to write things that people enjoy reading.
7. If you had one wish for your writing career what would it be?
That I could be a gazillionaire! LOL! I would love for my books to reach a lot of readers.
Lexi’s note: Don’t we all have the same wish. LOL
8. What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Writing involves a lot of rejection, so keep at it. Hone your craft. Listen to criticism and praise equally and learn from both of it.
9. You are an advocate for persons with diabetes and have written 21 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Diabetes. Can you tell us about this book?
I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic for half my life, and wanted to write an etiquette type of book related to diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that has a lot of incorrect assumptions, and as a result people can be rude and hurtful without meaning to be. I wrote a short, simple book that tells a non-diabetic 21 things they can do, that don’t cost a lot of money or time, that can help the diabetic in their life. When you’re a diabetic, the support from your family and friends means everything, and I wanted to write a short, easy, book that someone could read in just a few minutes and get a few tips from.
10. My father was recently diagnosed with this disease and it has been hard for him changing his lifelong eating habits and getting use to taking medication everyday. What can family members do to support loved ones with this diagnosis?
Stop judging! Diabetes is so much more than just food and sugar. As soon as someone gets diabetes, the first thing family members do is "police" the food on their plate. Moods, illness, and even stress add to problems with controlling blood sugar. And the key word there is control. There is no perfect number that you can make your blood sugar stay at. It’s constant monitoring and managing, and when family members are judging or harping, it adds to the stress and doesn’t help one bit in controlling blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetics often just need to make a few adjustments to live healthfully. The best thing a family can do when someone has diabetes is to first be thankful for their own good health. There are so many factors that cause diabetes, and not everyone will get it. So the family members that don’t have it should first get information, and second, appreciate the emotional aspects of the disease so they can give support. Diabetes is a disease that reminds us all that living a healthy, balanced life is the key, so everyone in the family can join in the healthy lifestyle.
11. Many people are currently searching for love and many chose to use internet dating sites. You actually met your husband this way and wrote two books about your experience The Coffee Shop and Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza. Both books have gotten rave reviews. Would you classify them as self help books for the dating impaired? Lol or are they how to books on the do’s and don’ts of internet dating?
Definitely the latter! LOL! Internet dating is a great thing, but not everyone can write a profile to convey their personality, or search through the loads of info out there to find the right person. I think daters just get frustrated when they don’t meet people, and then carry that negativity into the next date or relationship. It’s easy to do. Internet dating can work really well, but the right profile and approach mean everything. I just help people understand how to put their best self out there so they can attract the right person for them.
12. You have penned both traditional and e-books. Which format do you prefer and do you feel e-publishing is the way of the future?
I like traditional books for some things (novels and some nonfiction books) and ebooks for other things. I think e-publishing will definitely transform the publishing arena, but I still think there will always be books around. I personally love the printed word, so there’s nothing like shopping for and reading a book I can hold in my hand. I like ebooks for more informative topics. I know a lot of people enjoy ebook readers for every type of book, so I think what e-publishing has done is provide another means to get published and read. That’s a great thing because more choices help writers, publishers, and readers.
13. Many new authors are self publishing their works instead of spending months or years seeking traditional publication as you did with your first two poetry compilations. Do you feel this is a good first step for new writers?
It depends. There is a lot of misinformation about self-publishing out there. I think if you understand the publishing business and have a platform, self-publishing can work very well. Some topics and genres do better with self-publishing than others. I own a small publishing company where I have published my poetry and nonfiction books, but I am also looking for agent representation for my novels. I have no plans to self-publish those right now, even though I have a nonfiction platform in the freelance writing world.
There really is no one right way to do things. The key is learning all you can so you can make the right decision for you.
14. You recently finished up a virtual book tour for you diabetes book. First what exactly is a virtual book tour and of what benefit is it to writers?
Virtual tours rock because they can connect you to so many more readers. A virtual tour is a planned set of dates in which you appear on blogs and websites talking about your book. You could do interviews, guest posts, answer forum questions, or do giveaways. You get involved with interested readers by "appearing" on various blogs. This gives your book a leg up on publicity, and also allows readers to get to know you a bit better. (And you can sit in your jammies if you want!)
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like meeting readers face-to-face, but marketing budgets (for both traditionally published and self-published authors alike) are often tight. Not every author can tour, and not every reader can go to bookstore appearances. Blog tours help keep budget costs down because all the travel is virtual. For writers there is an added benefit. Since the posts and interviews stay up online, there is always a place for readers to come back and learn more about you.
15. Have you ever won any awards for your writing? If so please elaborate.
Well, my very first writing award was when I was six years old! LOL! I won an essay contest and got a book and some money. But since then, my books have won editor’s choices awards and I once won an essay contest and got a trip to New York.
16. Where can someone purchase your books?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or anywhere online where books are sold. My website (www.cherieburbach.com) provides links to blogs where they are sold. And some bookstores can order them as well.
17. Please tell our readers about your debut novel For Those Who Knew Zach.
Thanks for asking about Zach, because fiction is my latest project and I’m really excited about it. Here’s a blurb about it:
For Those Who Knew Zach, is the witty yet serious story of Zach Andrews, told indirectly by people he knows. Zach doesn’t know Jake Johnson yet, but soon he will change Zach’s life in a profound and unexpected way. Zach’s family and friends will tell you all about the arrogant surgeon, philandering charmer, and frightened father who has just collided with fate.
For Those Who Knew Zach is a character-driven novel, with Zach’s storyline told with circuitous clues from each character. Chapter after chapter will pull the reader into the lives of Zach’s friends and family, telling their own tales while also furthering the story of Zach’s recent accident and failure to turn himself in to police.
I’ve never written a novel before in this way (which was connecting short stories that hand off to each other) but I was very pleased with the final result. I hope readers enjoy it too.
18. You are a featured author on Suite101.com, a poet, blogger and now a novelist. What type of writing do you find the most fulfilling?
I enjoy all types for various reasons. Nonfiction writing is my bread and butter, and I’m able to earn a living and pay my bills that way. Blogging is a joy for me, and allows me to experience the entrepreneurial side of things. Poetry really nurtures my emotions and allows me to see the beautiful things in life that we sometimes forget about. And fiction is so fun it’s ridiculous. I love creating a completely new world with a set of characters that can keep someone entertained.
19. Is there a difference in the way you approach writing a fiction novel versus a nonfiction book?
Definitely. With fiction, I "sit" with a story for a while, and let it work its way around my brain. I start with a concept or line as the beginning of a story, and do the same for the end of the story before I even write. I don’t know what is going to happen in between those pages, but I know how it all begins and ends.
With nonfiction, I outline each piece of the book. I also start a nonfiction book with a question I have, or something I believe readers want to know. Sometimes I’ll get a number of the same questions emailed to me from readers about dating, for example, and it will spark an idea for a book. That was certainly the case with Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza. I noticed a lot of daters were having problems with the specifics involved in writing a profile. It’s one thing to tell a dater "write to show off your personality" and another thing to give them example after example so they could see firsthand what you mean. So my nonfiction writing helps fill a need of sorts.
20. When you aren’t writing what do you do for fun?
I enjoy crafting and being creative. I like to crochet, scrapbook, sew, paint, and cook. I’m a big reader, and really enjoy Tudor fiction. I think I’ve read hundreds of books now (both fiction and nonfiction) on the subject. I’m obsessed! LOL. I really like a good thriller, and a story that grabs me. I also read a lot of biography and nonfiction.
I’m ashamed to admit I love some guilty pleasure TV, too. I adore the Real Housewives! I think New York is my favorite. Here’s a fun fact, I’m featured in a book with two of the Real Housewives of New York: Bethenny Frankel and the Countess. (The book is called What to Do When No One Has a Clue, and is about all those awkward situations in life that no one really knows how to handle. I answer a question on dating, and I’m on the same page as the Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger! So I thought that was pretty cool. )
I just watched the British version of Life of Mars and think John Simm just might the most talented actor on the planet. And I have to see Jeopardy every day. (It’s my secret desire to be an answer on Jeopardy. Wouldn’t that be fun?)
21. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new ebook for daters entitled "101 Reasons You Are Still Single and What You Can Do About It." I’m also working on my third novel.