Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Paula Buermele, author of The Dream Catcher Tour.
Good day Paula and thanks for participating in our interview.
Paula, please tell our readers something about yourself and what motivates you to write.
Thank you, Norm. I have lived my entire life in the Great Lakes region and really appreciate the culture embraced in that area of the world. I enjoyed my first career as an elementary school teacher and am now fulfilling my second career as a business support analyst for a large corporation in Michigan. I am married without children and am developing writing as a potential retirement career. I write out of curiosity mostly; people fascinate me and I love to observe them and reflect on what motives their thoughts, words, actions and reactions.
What do you want your work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?
If my work inspires people to appreciate human nature and they are enriched or entertained by my writing, then my time and effort is well spent. I want my work to have a “feel good” effect on people and to have them think the time they invested in reading was worthwhile. I love to read and found a great deal of satisfaction in teaching children to read. Good books encourage reading.
What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?
Time is the challenge for me. While I make the transition from a corporate job to my eventual retirement career, I have to balance my desire to write while giving full measure to my day job. However, I find the stimulation of thinking from my job sparks ideas for my writing and that is very helpful. Using the creative side of my brain for writing complements the analytical thinking required in my work.
What was your main reason for writing The Dream Catcher Tour? As a follow up, how did you choose your title?
I realized one day that I have a rather easy life and, in thinking about that, I became aware that many women my age face different challenges. I realized that we often take for granted the value women bring to their families, friends, and society by faithfully doing what needs to be done, day in and day out. I want to honor that commitment. Writing about the various roles women play throughout their stages of life seemed like a good way to pay respect to them.
Last summer we took my mother out to dinner in Escanaba and when we entered the restaurant, we waited for a long line of women to exit the restaurant to get back on their bus. I was immediately curious: who were these women? Where were they going? Why were they traveling in the Upper Peninsula? They looked like people I would know. The questions would not go away so I made up the answers for them in The Dream Catcher Tour.
I chose the title late into the writing of The Dream Catcher Tour when I realized that the thoughts of my characters often expressed themselves while they were daydreaming. I love to read travel brochures and the tour companies usually name their tours. Dream catchers are ubiquitous in the Upper Peninsula as they are a favorite of the Native American tribes from that area. It seemed symbolic to use them to capture the daydreams of my characters.
How did you come up with ideas for The Dream Catcher Tour? What methods did you use to flesh out your characters?
I used mind-mapping techniques to list the roles I wanted to feature and generate ideas on how to develop the characters to reflect their roles. Part of that mapping included listing snippets of things that I have observed among women I’ve known over the years. In characters where an existing scenario didn’t come to mind, I spent time in a local coffee shop observing the conversations going on around me and that would spark story ideas. It was also important to me to give my characters names that were appropriate for their generation and since many are middle-aged, I dug out my high school yearbook and looked at the names and pictures. That proved to be another rich source of inspiration for character development.
My analytical skills contributed to the balance I tried to achieve. I created a spreadsheet matrix with the idea for each chapter and the number of pages for each listed. When I graphed that data, I could see the rhythm of the book as it developed. Then I used the same idea to graph the emotional flow by giving each chapter a “feeling rating.” I could then see where I needed transitions and how best to arrange the vignettes.
I also took a short bus tour to Amish country in Ohio with a friend from work to research the details of a typical bus tour. In The Dream Catcher Tour, the bus became a metaphor for me of relationships that are found within the boundaries of each life, with many individuals frequently getting on and off and bringing with them, or collecting, assorted baggage along the way.
Do you have a local writing community or fellow writers that you look to for support and advice? Did you have a writing mentor? Do you mentor others here?
I became involved in writing communities after my book was published. I really enjoyed the writing process and didn’t even think about the support a group could offer. Now, however, I am involved with the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) and with the Metro Detroit Creative Writers group. I find the give-and-take in these groups to be insightful.
I did not have a mentor, although Dr. Laura Kaufman, my professor for a Creative Writing for the Classroom course I took while working on my master’s degree in Literacy Education, awakened in me the sheer joy of exercising my imagination through writing. No one has asked me – yet – to mentor him or her as a writer but I have mentored in my corporate job and enjoyed the experience. I expect mentoring appeals to the teacher in me. I also received excellent support from another author, Karen Hasley, who published Lily’s Sister through Outskirts Press.
What has been your experience with self-publishing?
My experience with self-publishing has been very positive. I knew from my day job the value of print-on-demand and finding the right combination of print-on-demand printing with the publishing support for distribution was important to me. The key to being successful with self-publishing is in clearly identifying your goals and expectations. My goal was to get my work in circulation so I could test the waters of my writing ability. I expected to get feedback beyond family and friends that would help me determine if I could be successful in making writing a retirement career. I considered the experience equal in value to the cost of a graduate course so I set myself that financial limit and found that Outskirts Press fit my requirements perfectly. They delivered everything they promised and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the post-publication marketing support I receive. That’s how I found you, Norm.
How much real-life do you put into your fiction? Is there much “you” in there?
I wanted my novel to reflect emotional honesty so I put my characters into myself as much as possible so I could “write what I know” as writers are advised to do. One of my favorite activities as a child was to play with paper dolls and I think the women on the bus provided that kind of entertainment for me. When I was writing a particular character I would “be” her for a day and whatever I did that day, I did through her perspective. I have one very strange outfit in my closet because of that little indulgent fun.
One of the vignettes, “Peace”, is an expression of a dream I had but never followed. I wanted to join the Peace Corp between high school and college but my mother thought it was too dangerous and talked me out of it. Writing that chapter helped me realize how that dream might have come true. A few stories start with a kernel of reality but I used embellishment to reflect the way I think the stories could have played out. I really confounded my relatives with that technique. It surprised me how the characters became blends of people I know and of my own personality traits. They became truly fictional after they traveled through my imagination.
When you wrote The Dream Catcher Tour, did you have a particular audience in mind?
Yes, Norm, I certainly did. As I mentioned earlier, my goal was to honor the everyday woman so I wrote with women as my primary focus. I want them to identify with the experiences of the women on the bus and see themselves in a brighter light as they turn the pages. I also knew that the characters were representative of the Midwest culture and that would give the novel some regional appeal. I have occasionally heard the lament that “I would read more but I don’t want to be depressed or have graphic images or crime scenes in my mind afterward. I want something gentle to read and that’s hard to find.” The Dream Catcher Tour” reaches out to that small niche of readers. However, I think the men who have read the novel have found a universal appeal in the themes expressed and can relate them to women they have known.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
Go to www.thedreamcatchertour.com and explore all the pages and links. You can learn a lot about me and I have an e-mail link there. I would love to get to know my readers better so I do respond when I get a message.
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered and what is next for Paula Buermele?
We talked earlier about self-publishing and one thing I would like to mention is that the actual publication of a book simply marks the beginning of the marketing effort. Authors, with certain notable exceptions, are the owners of their marketing campaigns and if you want others to read what you’ve worked so hard to produce, then take this ownership seriously. It reflects your own respect for your work.
What’s next for Paula Buermele? I have been encouraged to keep writing so I’m working on my second novel, as yet untitled. It is about a middle-aged woman who becomes motivated to challenge herself to run in a Race for the Cure even though she despises running and any type of exercise. She’s made the commitment, however, and realizes she needs help in keeping it. She hires a high school girl and her brother to train her and the story develops around the relationships they build with one another.
Thank you, Norm, for your thoughtful questions and for taking the time for this e-interview with me.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
To read Norm's Review of The Dream Catcher Tour CLICK HERE
The Dream Catcher Tour
Click Here To Purchase From Amazon The Dream Catcher Tour Author: Paula BuermeleISBN: 1-4327-0353-6 Paula Buermele’s The Dream Catcher Tour provides her readers with a peek into the lives of forty-seven women who together embark on a bus tour of the Great Lakes with Northern Experience Tours.What ensues is a potent collection of stories reflecting Buermele’s affirmation that she is an attentive student in the classroom of life.Buermele moves effortlessly from one voice to another a
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