“Barbara Lunow: Author of Whistle for a Possum and Two Other Books” Interview by Joan Y. Edwards
Thank you for allowing me to interview you, Barbara. It’s exciting you started out self-publishing but have recently been published by two traditional publishers. I am very happy for you and proud of you.
You are welcome, Joan. I’m glad to be a guest on your blog.
My readers are looking forward to hearing more about you. Let’s get going!
1. Where were you born?
Fort Dodge, Iowa
2. Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child?
Besides a cozy chair in our living room, I liked to climb up in the plum tree and read. When allowed, I liked to read in bed.
3. What’s your favorite book that you’ve ever read? Why?
I can’t name just one. As a child, a favorite was Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink.
In my adult life one that impressed me very much was a biography of two missionary ladies, “The Gobi Desert” by Mildred Cable with Francesca French
4. Why did you decide to write?
I’ve always liked to write, more than talk. I’ve kept journals and written letters.
5. Why do you write?
- I write for myself. It’s releasing and relaxing. It helps me focus and remember.
- I write when I have a story to tell and want to share mission experiences.
- I write to challenge children and young people to learn about our world, the people of the world. It is a way to honor the people that we worked with for so long
6. What are three tips for writers?
- Write it all down to start with, then revise, edit and revise again, as many times as you have to. There will come a time when you feel it is enough, then quit and have someone else look at it for you.
- Join a writer’s group for encouragement and balance. They are wonderful sounding boards to listen to your work and make suggestions. It’s good to hear what others are writing as well.
- Receive good criticism, blow away the bad. Don’t be discouraged by criticism.
7. How do you entice readers to read to the very last page of your book?
- Keep up the pace of the book.
- Don’t drag it out.
- Have good resolution to your story, even if there is more to come or a sequel
8. You have three books out. Tell us about them please.
I have ONE self-published book with Thomas Max Publishing, “Are We There Yet?” an auto-bio of our first years in Papua, Indonesia as missionary translators.
Book number TWO was an author’s choice chapbook of free-verse poetry, “Star Drops and Spider Hairs”, published by MainStreet Rag. I went to a SC Writers Conference and had some of my poetry critiqued by author, Anne Kaylor. She recommended my poetry as a chapbook to Main Street Rag. I did not have to go through process of query letters, etc.
Book THREE, “Whistle for a Possum (and other Papuan tales),” a children’s book of cultural stories, exercises about the Sougb people of Papua, Indonesia was published by Dancing With Bear Publishing.
9. Lee Clevenger with Thomas Max Publishing, the man who self-published your first book, was instrumental in finding a publisher for “Whistle for a Possum,” the culture one. Tell us that story please.
When I was ready with “Whistle for a Possum,” I asked my editor Lee Clevenger of Thomas Max self-publishing for ideas on who might be interested in publishing it. I thought it would be a good book for elementary school market. He said he would ask around. Shortly after that, Lee was at a writer’s conference and in talking with an editor from Dancing with Bear mentioned my book. They are a Christian Publisher, and Marie McGaha contacted me, asked for the manuscript and consequently published it.
10. Please tell us the top three reasons you chose Thomas Max Publishing to publish your book for you.
- A friend of mine had published with Thomas Max and had a good experience working with them
- There are no initial fees to publish, they ask that you commit to buying at least 250 books, they help edit and do layout work for you
- I felt welcomed and they were more than helpful in the process of getting to publishing, even when I didn’t know what I was doing. I never felt intimidated.
11. Did you pay for editing services before you submitted to Thomas Max Publishing?
No, my commitment was to buy at least 250 books from them.
12. How long did it take from the time you signed your contract until you received the final copies of your book?
I think it was about 2 months. I had my book professionally edited before I submitted. They worked with me on a few editing problems, but I understand they will help with more details if necessary.
13. Did Thomas Max design your cover?
I had my own picture and general idea of what I wanted, background color too. Lee worked with me on the font-type size, etc. I set up the back cover, reviews, etc., also my author’s picture.
14. Did Thomas Max Publishing format your book for paperback, hardback, and eBook sales?
It was formatted for all three –hardcover, paperback and eBook. They most often publish paperback and ebook, due to the expense of hardcover.
15. Did you pay separate for ISBNs or were these included in a special package?
Thomas Max Publishing did the ISBN registration, etc. at no cost to me.
16. How does Thomas Max Publishing market your book?
Thomas Max listed my book with Ingram and put it online; the rest is up to me.
17. How are you marketing your book?
I printed business cards, single and foldable, for my books with contact info on them. I put one in each book, send them in letters, and give them as a handout.
- People can order signed copies of all books from me personally via my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Notified an extensive list of missionary friends and supporters via email and letter in the pre-order stages and also after they were available.
- Word-of-mouth orders still come through my email
- Speaking and reading in churches, women’s groups and conferences
- Facebook – most recently I put the information on Facebook
18. Here are links to purchase Barbara’s books:
Amazon Are We There Yet?
Barnes & Noble Are We There Yet?
Main Street Rag Star Drops and Spider Hairs
Amazon Whistle for a Possum
Barnes & Noble Whistle for a Possum
Contact her for Speaking/Reading or to buy autographed copies of any of her books: email@example.com or phone (803) 396-0986
Facebook: Barbara K Lunow
Barbara Lunow was born and raised in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and comes from a family of six children. Her love of books and words started early with her mother reading all the children’s classics at bedtime. As a child she enjoyed any writing assignment given to her, and she served on her high school paper as a feature writer. One of her school themes was later published in her churches national magazine.
Beyond high school, Barbara received a three-year degree in nursing, took a summer course in linguistics, and she attended Bible College in preparation for her life’s work as a missionary. She married Wolfgang (Dan) Lunow in 1960 and they have 5 children.
In 1968, Barbara and Dan began their ministry in Papua, Indonesia, serving as linguist-translators in a primitive tribe of 13,000. They ministered together there for over 35 years. Barbara practiced nursing in village bush clinics, with the only means to contact a doctor via 2-way radio. She translated and set up a three-year Sunday School program. She was the official word-processor, computer-person for the Sougb New and Old Testaments, plus the other translated booklets in the Sougb language.
Barbara’s greatest joy was the Widow’s Bible Class which she started and taught for over 20 years. The widows were at the bottom of the ladder in the Sougb culture. Through the class they were recognized as having value, especially in prayer for their people. She feels she learned more from them, than they learned from her. They encouraged her and dearly loved her kids.
She kept a journal of all their missionary years, and wrote monthly reports and stories to family and supporters at home. When her children went to boarding schools and later to college in the USA, she faithfully wrote to them every week. Barbara served as field editor for her mission and had numerous articles published in their mission magazine.
Since completing translation work, Barbara has finally had time to do her own writing. Her first book, about their beginning years in Papua, titled “Are We There Yet?” was published in 2014. A chapbook of poetry, “Star Drops and Spider Hairs” came out in January 2016. And her children’s book, “Whistle for a Possum (and Other Papuan Tales)” was published in October 2016.
She continues to write and is currently working on a fictionalized story of a young Papuan girl who wants to break away from cultural norms and go to school, instead of getting married.
Thank you, Barbara for sharing your writing journey with us.
Please feel free to ask Barbara questions or share an experience in the comment area.