Speaking the Language of Books: Author/Actress Mara Purl
This morning I had the honor and privilege of interviewing the award-winning writer-producer-performer Mara Purl. For the back story of Mara’s professional career, please visit yesterday’s blog Portrait of a Consummate Artist. Mara is on a month long virtual book tour to promote “What the Heart Knows” which will be released in hardcover next month.
“ Romance and novel paint beauty in colors more charming than nature, and describe a happiness that humans never taste. How deceptive and destructive are those pictures of consummate bliss !” ~ Oliver Goldsmith
Tomorrow, on All Things Fulfilling we will have the honor of interviewing author and actress Mara Purl. I met Mara several years ago when our company, Cornerstone Fulfillment Service, LLC joined the Colorado Independent Publishers Association as a service vendor. www.cipabooks.org . Mara was President at the time.
The Back Story :
Mara Purl has been fulfilling her life, through her multi-facetted career in the Arts. Her professional accomplishments as an award winning writer-producer-performer include:
- Author of serial novels, set in her fictitious coastal town Milford- Haven. They are the basis for the first American radio drama ever licensed by the BBC. The series drew an audience of 4.5 million fans.
- Actress on Days of Our Lives . Mara played the role of Darla Cook.
- Journalist/staff writer for the Financial Times of London and the Associated Press.
- Co-authored Act Right with Erin Gray. This book is frequently used by schools of performing arts as an educational tool. http://bit.ly/neZ5tJ
- Founder of S.T.A.R. – Student Theatre And Radio – a program she has taught in the U.S, and abroad inJapan.
- Mara Purl was named one of the twelve Women of the Year in 2002 by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.
- Musician for Teijo Ito’s CD Watermill. She is accomplished at playing the koto.
- Mara grew up in Tokyo, Japan. She lives in Los Angeles and Colorado Springs, CO
Thursday (tomorrow) I look forward to sharing my interview with Mara and information on the hardcover release of her Milford-Haven book. Not only will we be discussing books and publishing, we will also be discussing topics of common interest that faithful readers of this blog site have come to expect – such as integrating Art into one’s life for personal fulfillment.
Come on back tomorrow. Mara is guaranteed to have a lot to say of interest on this matter!
This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com .
This morning I had the honor and privilege of interviewing the award-winning writer-producer-performer Mara Purl. For the back story of Mara’s professional career, please visit yesterday’s blog Portrait of a Consummate Artist. Mara is on a month long virtual book tour to promote “ What the Heart Knows” which will be released in hardcover next month.
The Interview :
Sue: Mara, we met when my company, Cornerstone Fulfillment Service, LLC joined the Colorado Independent Publishers Association as a vendor member. You were President at the time. Can you tell us what you learned as an independent publisher that led you to a new publisher, Bellekeep Books?
Mara: Primarily, I have always been an author. I had gotten an offer from the London office of Random House books many years ago and because of very complex situations between an agreement with the BBC relating to my radio drama series and some changes that were going on with Random House I felt it was not a good time to engage in a contract with them.
So, I and five other authors and our teams independently published our books through Haven Books. It really began as a test marketing phase of the books and to get to know who our readers were. What I didn’t know was NY publisher Eric Kampmann was watching me. He was a very wise man. He recognized the trend that began the implosion of the larger publishing companies and saw that good books were getting lost because they weren’t getting into the system. He founded Mid Point Trade Books , and has now roughly 400 imprints under his umbrella. He became a distribution arm for the independents, including my new publisher Bellekeep Books.
Sue: What did you learn from first independently publishing your books?
Mara : I learned after rejection that there were some publishing elements that were important and missing. Every field has some language and that was rapidly evolving. I always thought I was a fiction writer but really I was writing women’s fiction. Then I began studying displays at book shows and in bookstores. I learned that my book covers did not speak the language of the women’s fiction code. I learned about developing a vision for my brand and each decision I made for my books were art projects designed to make sure they fit the genre and they would catch the eye of the buyer of women’s fiction.
Although my new publisher Bellekeep Books did not require that I rewrite my book, I did go through “ What the Heart Knows ” with my editor and brought some story elements foreword which added 100 pages to the hardcover book. I also learned that the cover of my book, which was a line drawing, did not fit with the character of my protagonist, Miranda Jones, who was a painter. So the hardcover has a new cover design. Mary Helsaple, who has been my art research expert and is a nationally known artist, painted a watercolor cover for my book. I loved it! Now the cover design matches the integrity of the inside of the book.
Sue: As you well know, independent publishing is continuing to grow and now represents over 50% of all publishing revenue. Where do you see the publishing industry going and how do e-books fit into your assessment of this new generation of publishing?
Mara: I notice that people are reading incessantly. As I travel, I see people reading hardcovers, on laptops, trade paper books, hard cover books and using e-readers. E-books are just another platform. People still love the tactile experience of holding a book. They are tracking book sale trends and surprisingly, those that like an e-book are treating them as a morsel for a real book. If they really liked it, they want to purchase not the paper back but the hardback version to keep on their bookshelves as part of their permanent collections.
Mara: People value time they can carve out for themselves and they use that valued time to read on all different kinds of platforms.
Sue: Mara, many lives are changed through reading non-fiction, but many say that women’s fiction has the same ability to change lives. How do you go about getting messages across to women through a fictional narrative?
Mara: Well…non-fiction is about facts and fiction is about truth. Through non-fiction you can’t access every nuance. You can only record the facts. For example: If you are telling a story of violence – facts are sometimes distasteful and you can use fiction as a lens to magnify theoretical cases and go inside the mind of the victim and perpetrator.
In the case of a positive issue of relationships – through fiction you can follow the development of a romantic attraction and the personalities involved. Through fiction writing you can present a picture for people to understand what is going on inside the story.
Read the rest of our in-depth interview with on Tuesday, August 23rd when Mara will be back on All Things Fulfilling to discuss her career and how she has incorporated her love for the Arts into her books.
That is it till Monday, folks!
As we broke away from our interview on Thursday with author Mara Purl, we began to talk about the hardcover release of “ What the Heart Knows ” and the new cover design painted by watercolorist Mary Helsaple. Today, we will engage in conversation about the creative artistic marketing of the book as well as Mara’s life as a multi-dimensional artist.
The Interview Continues -
Sue: What other creative things are you doing with marketing and merchandising as part of your new arrangement with Bellekeep Books?
Mara: I have written a short story “ When Hummers Dream ” which is a prequel to “ What the Heart Knows ” available through Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-readers. It is free until Labor Day. “ When Hummers Dream ” is a Best Seller on the Kindle free e-book list. After I wrote the short story, I realized there are many bird enthusiasts that follow all kinds of hummingbirds. I got invited to speak at a Hummingbird Garden in Phoenix. I look forward to that!
We are having an internet launch on September 27 and there will be some bonus items included in the purchase of the hardcover “ What the Heart Knows .” We also incorporated a heart cockleshell dingbat on the pages and each subsequent book in the series will have a different kind of shell dingbat aside the chapter numbers. Also, as part of the merchandising, there will be shell charms that people can purchase to match the dingbats in the books. They can begin to build their charm bracelets. It is our way of incorporating books and art. I created my protagonist Miranda Jones, a painter out of my love for art.
Also, at the back of the book “What the Heart Knows” there will be questions to the reader to ask them whether they are listening……are they listening to their own hearts?
Sue: Mara, you have worn many artistic hats over the course of your life time, as performing artist, award-winning author, screenwriter, songwriter and journalist. Were your parents always supportive of your career in the Arts?
Mara: Yes! Tremendously supportive…always.
Sue: A little while after we met, I found out that you graduated from Bennington College with a degree in the Arts. As you know now, my place of residence of almost 30 years was in Bennington County,Vermont. Has your career matched your vision when you decided upon this field of study many years ago?
Mara : Yes.Vermont is a magical place with independent spirit. Winter was long but the solitude became a cauldron for internal development. The mentors at Bennington College were wonderful and had extraordinary influence on me. I met two Bennington grads as a teen and both said it would be a good fit. The decision ended up a heart decision for me. There were small classes and I learned how to talk in front of people. You had to contribute because there was little other structure and few others in the class. I learned to be a self starter there.
Sue: I was going to ask you to what do you attribute your success in working in so many dimensions of the Arts, but you may have just answered my question, in part.
Mara: Yes, I did. I found that in the quiet came self growth. And you ask yourself what are you here to do? I learned in my college years that the rest doesn’t happen unless you become a self-starter. I have concern about kids today and all the external they are exposed to – the TV, the iPods, the cell phones, all the digital devices. They can’t be quiet and be with themselves in quiet spaces. They are plugged into something constantly.
Sue: What has it meant to you personally to be able to follow your dreams and pursue your passions in the Arts?
Mara: It’s funny, years into my career, I came across a guy that I had known way back, he said to me “you didn’t sell out.” At first I didn’t know what he meant, but what he meant is I stuck with what I wanted to do. But, I didn’t know what else to do. I was just being me. For some people painful choices have to be made but I say it is never too late to come back to your core mission.
Sue: To wrap things up, what words of advice can you give to the younger generations who are interested in pursuing careers in the Arts?
Mara: Listen to your heart and soul. Look for mentors that have walked the path in what you want to do. There will be well meaning people and ask their advice but there has to be internal and external balance. Finally consult with yourself only you really know.
Sue: This has been a busy month for you. You have been on virtual blog tours for weeks and you have a few more to go. Mara, I appreciate so much your taking the time to stop by All Things Fulfilling and giving us insight into your books and also into your career as a person who has so successfully made their living in the Arts.
Sue: One last question – where can we look for “ What the Heart Knows ?”
Mara: In bookstores, through links on my own website www.marapurl.com , on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, on i-Readers. Just Google and you will find it.
This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.
“ Gardens are a form of autobiography .” ~Sydney Eddison
The other night, I read my first e-book! I don’t have an e-reader yet, but I downloaded Kindle onto my laptop (yes, it is possible!). I decided to give digital books a whorl, by taking advantage of a free e-book, available until Labor Day. “ When Hummers Dream ” was my book of choice. It is on the NY Times best selling free e-book list. http://bit.ly/rgRNo1 .
You might ask –“Did you like reading by digital format, rather than having a book in hand?” I dunno! I was too involved in waltzing through a painting of a gorgeous garden created by words of author Mara Purl to notice. Which, I suppose supports the argument that if a book is fulfilling, it really does not matter which format you use. Good books come via hardcover, paper bound volumes, audio and digital forms. The choices have been expanded by one more platform with the addition of e-books.
There was one drawback, however, to downloading Kindle on my laptop computer, rather than having an independent e-reading device. I was too tempted to quickly peek to find out if I had any urgent emails. I overcame that urge by deciding to fully enjoy my stroll through the place of enchantment where hummingbirds dream. I followed along the path of the little winged creature as it flew among hollyhocks, soared above the blue and purple flags of iris and indulged in the essence of the scented flora.
Let’s face it – the distractions are there when reading books in print, too. Thoughts of a decadent ice cream treat, a steamy cup of tea ……a sound of an intriguing voice can interrupt a journey through a wonderful storyline of any book. But a good read http://bit.ly/cPS5QL will always draw you back in, time and time again.
This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.
Dianemarie (DM) Collins
DM Productions LLC
(623).825.9122 Ext. 2 - Email: DM@DMProductionsLLC.com
Phoenix - Lake Tahoe - Reno
Author - Actress - Motivational Speaker