She is the author of several recordkeeping books for business owners, contributing author and freelance writer, whose articles have appeared nationally in print and online publications.
VS: I want to thank you Brigitte for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I know being a parent and writer can be hard. I am sure you have been in my shoes from time to time trying to balance the writing life with family life. So to start, here is the first question, how many children do you have and what are their ages?
Brigitte: Thank you for inviting me to your blog. I have three children as well and do often wonder if I’m spending enough quality time with them. My daughter Sarah is 17, Jacob is 13 and Katherine is 9. They have all grown up with mom working at home. Finding that balance between work and family is challenging.
VS: Wow, I would never have guessed you had a 17 year old. You are so right about it being a challenge to find the balance. Not because we’re writers, but because we work from home. I know my family thinks I can just drop what I’m doing if they show up or call. Not always the case if you have a deadline to make. Okay as a mom, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Brigitte: I try to balance my writing with my accounting business and my family, but I’m not always successful. When my business and children were young, I was able to do most of my writing and work around their sleeping schedule. As my business and children have grown, it’s becoming harder to juggle both. In my experience, the key to finding balance is to be flexible. There have been many times when I had an idea for an article or book, which I needed to get out of my head and into the computer, but ended up side tracked by a toddler who needed my attention or a teenager who suddenly decided that was the moment to talk me. I’ve learned to adapt.
VS: Great point about being flexible and adapting. I’ve had to really adjust my writing time with a new baby in the house and my son fencing three times a week. I do have to say your adapting hasn’t stopped you from publishing and that is inspiring. Speaking of which, what inspired you to write?
Brigitte: My inspiration is the desire to share information in order to help others. My writing focus is business finance, recordkeeping and taxes. I’ve found the publications written by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be dry, at best. Yet, in order to run a successful business, people need to understand the tax requirements. I write books and articles in order to share the pertinent information in an easy to understand format. I try to make learning fun!
VS: I wish I knew about your books back when I was first setting up Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. My brain was bleeding after reading pages and pages on the IRS website. I think it’s wonderful you’re making learning about taxes fun. Who would have thought taxes could be fun. LOL. Now is your family supportive of your writing?
Brigitte: Yes, thankfully, my family is very supportive of my writing. My parents, husband and children all support and encourage me as a writer. When I ask for feedback, I have a willing audience eager to share their thoughts.
VS: I feel it is important for a writer’s success to have a supportive family and from what you’ve said . . . it makes sense why you are. Brigitte, what was the first thing you ever had published?
Brigitte: My first book, The Home Daycare Complete Recordkeeping System was published in 1993 and there’s a great story behind the inception. After years of working outside the home in accounting, I decided to become an entrepreneur when we were expecting our first child. I understood it would take time to build a solid client base for my accounting firm, but financially we needed my contribution to survive. I spent months researching the options and ended up opening a home daycare. This allowed me to be home with my new baby and still make a financial contribution to our family. In the process of all this research, I became an expert in the recordkeeping and tax deductions available in this profession. I was invited to speak at our local Child Care Resource organization then hired to teach recordkeeping workshops for their members. Demand for the workshops grew and the book was born.
VS: You just pointed out one the ways to be successful as a writer. You found a niche and filled its needs. Good for you! You also branched out from just writing to speaking as an expert. Another great way to build your platform as a writer and expert in your field. Now you did you have any training to become a writer before writing your book?
Brigitte: I’ve always enjoyed writing and thrived in the subject throughout my education. I graduated from college with a degree in business and I’ve completed several tax courses. I have taken a few courses in writing, but did not receive any formal training.
VS: I think it is great so many writers come from different backgrounds and so many don’t have formal training. I think this helps others who dream of writing understand you don’t have to be Lit Major to become a writer. So do you mostly write business titles or do you dab in other genres of writing?
Brigitte: My published books are all non-fiction, business titles. I have written a few fictional short stories, but don’t feel confident they are ready for publication quite yet.
VS: You sound like a Mother Hen with your fiction writing. What I always suggest to those trying a different genre of writing is to get a professional critique from someone published in that genre. This will help you grow as a writer and even help you let go of the manuscript and seek publication. So what type of books do you mostly read, Brigitte?
Brigitte: Oh, I love to read most genres and am so happy my children share this love of the written word. Medical thrillers by authors like Robin Cook and Michael Palmer intrigue me. My favorite book of all time is The Stand by Stephen King; making horror another interest. My older daughter, Sarah, enjoys books by Jodi Picoult, so I’ve started to read her titles and enjoy the discussions that follow.
VS: I’m a big Stephen King fan myself, even though I write children’s lit. I’ve read a few of Robin Cook’s books, too. What I love most . . . is your willingness to read titles your children are into. I’ve recently started doing that with my 14 year old. I think when parents do this, it not only helps foster the love of reading, but also lets your children feel they can open up to you on other subjects, too. Okay, so what do you enjoy most about writing?
Brigitte: It’s hard to pick just one part. I enjoy the whole process of writing from the conception of the idea right through proofing the final draft. If I move beyond the mechanics of writing, I would say my favorite part is reviewing the first draft of the book. It’s a great feeling to see all the chapters put together in a logical, easy to read format.
VS: Yes, seeing the first draft is a great feeling. For me it is because I’ve completed something, even if it needs some revising. As an old track runner, I look at a finished first draft like crossing the finish line of a race. Brigitte, what would you say is the most difficult part of writing?
Brigitte: For me the difficult part is stopping. When I write, I become immersed in the topic. Once I start, the ideas flow and I’m eager to put them into words. Making myself turn off the flow and close the computer file is difficult – and something I’m still learning how to do.
VS: With that thought, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job of providing accounting services?
Brigitte: In the first few years of operating both the accounting firm and my writing, I would encounter deadlines for submitting articles that coincided with deadlines for filing payroll taxes or other liabilities for my clients. I quickly learned to prioritize since IRS deadlines cannot be extended. VS: I’m sure your clients will be happy to hear that. Too bad, we can’t push the deadline out for taxes. How I hate doing those quarterly taxes. It was bad enough once a year. LOL. Brigitte, can you share with us a bit about your books? Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Brigitte: My books are all non-fiction, business titles and include my series for home daycare professionals as well as other industries. - The Home Daycare Complete Recordkeeping System - Home Daycare Recordkeeping Journal - Financial Guide To Success in Home Daycare which is also available in Spanish - Sistema de Manetemiento de Registros por las Guarderias infantiles de Casa- Home Daycare Training Series, which is used throughout the United States for teaching home daycare providers. It includes a Student Guide, Teacher’s Manual, workbook and a computer CD. - Federal Income Tax Guide for Window Cleaning Professionals - Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers – my newest title. Currently I’m working on Bookkeeping Basics for Home Daycare Providers (published by Crystal Press) which is expected to be released in the last quarter of 2011.
VS: What a great list of books. Brigitte, please share with us about your writing space?
Brigitte: Most days I work in my office, which is on the main floor of my home. In this space, I have two computers, printers, two fax machines, a copier and lots of shelving. I try to organize everything in folders, but frequently end up with stacks of papers on my desk that didn’t quite make it into a folder yet.
A few months ago, I set up something new in my writing space – a treadmill. I sit at my desk for hours on end, which is so unhealthy. I read about this new invention called a WalkStation. People walk at a slow pace while they work. The real systems are expensive so I improvised. I have a desktop set up on the arms of the treadmill, a monitor attached to the wall and everything I need within reach. It’s certainly not a traditional writing space, but I like it.
VS: I really like that idea. My treadmill in my bedroom so I look at it when going to bed and when I wake up. I do get on it, but not as much lately as I would like. I will have to try your WalkStation idea. Funny thing is the treadmill use to be in my office and I never even thought of this. Great tip and I love how your office is roomy like mine.
Brigitte, how do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?
Brigitte: I wish I had a crystal ball to predict how the publishing world was going to evolve. My best guess is that the industry will be moving from printed books to digital in an effort to be environmentally conscious as well as to enhance economic feasibility. There are so many amazing authors creating interesting books and so few traditional publishers willing to take a risk by investing in them. I hope we can remove the stigma associated with print on demand or self-publishing and welcome the new titles available for us to read.
VS: All very good points indeed, Brigitte. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?
Brigitte: Motherhood is an amazing journey filled with emotional ups and downs. Writing is a way to express concepts, thoughts and ideas. Being a Writing Mama combines the two worlds and has lead to the most memorable times in my life. To all those mama’s thinking about making the leap, I heartily recommend it!
VS: Brigitte thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us on writing and being a mom. You have given me some really great ideas and have inspired me to keep going. Thank you so much.
For those of you who would like to learn more about Brigitte, her books and her bookkeeping company visit her websites:
Brigitte A. Thompson’s author page on Amazon, which holds information on all of the titles, cover images and ISBNs.
Brigitte A. Thompson’s blog, Writers in Business: http://www.WritersinBusiness.blogspot.com
Brigitte A. Thompson Publisher’s web site: http://www.CrystalPress.org
I'll be announcing the winner for yesterday's blog post later today and will post the answers to the Writing Know How as well.