Friday, January 23, 2015

Straight from the Mouth of 'Fantastical' Marija Bulatovic

Marija Bulatovic was born in the 1970s Yugoslavia immigrated to the Chicago land area, just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country.

Marija has spent 15 years working in hi-tech industry and is an accomplished business professional driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies.

She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and son-who was the catalyst for FANTASTICAL.

Find out more on Amazon


Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

While I didn’t set out to pursue career as an author, I was moved to do so after the birth of my son.  FANTASTICAL is a legacy to my son, as his birth was the catalyst for the book. 

These stories were born with my son.  Uncertain upon entering a wholly new phase of life, I sought wisdom and enlightenment – and a break from the daily routine of feedings, lack of sleep, and disorientation.  I was in search of something that would lift my spirit, make me laugh, and transport me, if only for a moment, to another, less tangible, place and time. 

While the world in which these stories unfold no longer exists, I still cling to the many lessons it taught me.  Because of my fantastical childhood, I know in my heart that life is much more than a sum of mundane survival activities.  I know that it’s fluid, magical, brimming with love and connection.

This book was indeed the respite I needed.  It freed my mind to roam the wild landscape of a bygone era and lifted me on the wings of Balkan stardust.  I hope it will do the same for my readers.  My hope is that these stories amuse and transport my readers, sustaining them on their journey as they have me on mine. 

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

Great question and IT is different for each author based on their expectations. As for me, IT is all it’s cracked up to be and I’m enjoying the journey.  Just to bring a book project forward and have it published is a huge personal and professional accomplishment and to be able to talk about it and bring it to the broader audience is wonderful and very rewarding. 

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I chose to self-publish.  FANTASTICAL is a work of passion and a very personal and dear project to me.  As such, I was interested to personally and deeply become involved in all aspects of publishing, from identifying the right experts to edit, illustrate, layout, and print the book to working with a tremendously talented publicist to bring it to light. 
Self-publishing is enormously labor and time intensive, but also very rewarding and profitable, assuming one is able to make investments to get the book to the finish line.
The pros are that you, as an author are 100% in control of your book and the every aspect of it.  You are the final decision maker and owner of the outcomes-good and bad. It’s a wonderful opportunity to merge one’s creative talents with flawless execution.  It does require much self-discipline and hard work, but it’s also a rewarding process.  While the world of self-publishing tools and services can feel like a maze, once the author understands them, they are generally easy and efficient to use.
The cons are that you have to invest money, time and energy to personally research and identify everything that shapes the book: editors, publicists, designers, printers, distributors, etc.  This is no easy task and authors can feel discouraged by it and by the long road ahead.  The self-publish path also requires that you make personal investments or raise money to fund your book project-which done right, is not an inexpensive proposition. 

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Great question and self-publishing a book is definitely a commitment! My family was extremely supportive along the way.  Specifically, my wonderful husband, Gerry Miller, and my parents, my eternal guides and strength, Smiljka and Ljubomir Bulatovic, were extremely encouraging, reading and re-reading the stories, critiquing, asking thoughtful questions, reviewing designs and all-around cheering me on.  Also, my broader circle of family, especially my wonderful in-laws KyungAe Bea and Ralph Miller, were very generous with their time and feedback. And of course, my mentor, Joe Keller, and a number of dear friends cheered me on every step of the way!

This is for pet lovers.  If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

No pets hereJ but I love animals.

This is for plant lovers.  If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

Yes, I own a number of plants, some of which were sitting on my desk as I was writing or making directional decisions about FANTASTICAL! Just looking at them during the writing process provided me with a sense of calm and when I needed a break, I loved watering them and rewarding their peaceful inspiration.

I currently have a beautiful jasmine plant at my home which is always a reminder of my childhood, these stories, as its scent prominently figures in FANTASTICAL.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

There are certainly many distractions to writing or any other form of work.  I did most of my writing during my baby’s naps, when the house was quiet and when I had the best ability to focus. 

On the other hand, knowing that there would be distractions, I would plan around those, block time on the calendar for writing exclusively and put 100% of my energies toward FANTASTICAL during this time.

It’s definitely a balancing act!

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

The fact that a lot of FANTASTICAL was envisioned and created while nursing my baby is probably the craziest thing about the project! Much of it at night too! 2am, 4am feedings…

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I’m not far down the social networks path yet, so can’t comment from experience if one is better than others. 

However, I am a networker and a connector by nature, so I’m reaching out to everyone is my broad circle of friends, family and associates letting them know FANTSTICAL is out, encouraging them to read it and if they like it, review it and share the good word with others.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

I’m just starting out, but it’s very nice to already have book sales! It’s a good tangible validation of 2 years of deep personal investment. 

Especially, as a self-publishing author sales are very important and a way to sustain the project. 

That’s also a beauty of self-publishing, once you are published, the revenue is yours! (minus printing, distribution costs, but NO publisher revenue share)

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I’d like to encourage anyone who’s looking for a little magic, a break from the mundane, a pinch of humor in their lives to pick up FANTASTICAL and transport themselves, for a moment, into a world that has vanished from the map but not the mind and open themselves up to magic in their own lives! 

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Publishing and especially self-publishing a book is a major accomplishment, professionally and personally.  It’s very rewarding.  My journey as an author is just starting, I’m thrilled for it and am happy to have put good energy into the universe via these stories! Hope my readers enjoy it as much as I do! Cheers!

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