Mirta’s self-proclaimed life’s career has been raising a family and creating a home, alongside her husband of almost thirty years. She returned to the world of the gainfully employed late in life; currently in a position which doesn’t require “one iota of dramatic flair – just common sense, organization and attention to detail.” Rather than being self-deprecating, Mirta lightheartedly concedes that her paper pushing makes a number of people happy, as that bureaucratic busywork ensures that payroll is met and invoices are processed. Besides being an avid novel reader and a devoted Beatles fan, Mirta most enjoys choral music and researching family genealogy.
What inspires you to write?
The inspiration for With Love, The Argentina Family came about like one of my mother’s recipes…a pinch of this, a dash of that and a healthy dollop of the other. First and foremost, I wrote it for my kids; I have three adult children. My sense of family and constancy urged me to give them a tangible link- something that will forever remind them that they came from this loving, enduring stock made up of Jewish values, Russian ancestry, and Argentine culture. In addition to that rather emotionally charged motivator, I was encouraged to write the story by friends, family, and strangers alike; people who have continually said that my story was unique and enlightening. Recently, I found myself whiling away a few hours on a tour bus. My fellow passengers and I engaged in customary small talk…”Where are you visiting from?” “What an unusual name! Where are you from originally? ” My decision to write this memoir was validated once again as two lovely ladies, both teachers and lovers of history, genealogy and romance said, “That is the greatest story I ever heard! You should write a book!” Imagine my pride and sense of accomplishment when I turned to them both and said, “I did!” (They both ended up purchasing the book.)
Tell us about your writing process.
I always knew I had at least one good book in me. My unique background has been the ideal conversation opener on numerous occasions, including many awkward, social affairs, yet I never could get pen to paper… until the advent of a job promotion. Being the “new kid on the block,” I was once again, prompted to explain where I was from…you see, it’s my name- Mirta; the great ice-breaker. The series of questions that inevitably followed led me to explain how a “white girl with blue eyes” speaks Spanish, has Russian grandparents, and is Jewish. In between trying to settle down in a new office and adjust to new responsibilities, my co-workers pursued their line of questioning…Jews in South America? How did that happen? When they learned that my husband was from Argentina as well, they were enchanted by our long distance romance. One question led to another until one woman exclaimed, “You should write a book!” When, a few days later, she insisted that I review an article about self-publishing, my creative juices began flowing.
I had the material- fifty years’ worth at least, but creative juices or not, I struggled. I struggled with first person vs. third person, real names or fictitious, copy right regulations and the oh-so-beloved Chicago Manual of Style. I struggled to appease family members who wanted to be removed from the story line and then, complained when they were not included- Oy vey! Dios mío! Oh my goodness!
I finally just sat down in front of the computer and imagined that I was retelling my stories to a live audience. I gave myself permission to “go with the flow” with the knowledge that I’d have to return for some heavy duty editing later. My main goal was to simply get it down on paper, so to speak. Sometimes, I would be inspired to write for hours on end. Other days, I couldn’t even bare to look at the computer. There were times where I’d wake up and have to jot down a thought or two before I lost a particular gem. My purse was full of little bits of scrap paper and notes furiously scribbled while on my lunch break or waiting at the deli counter. The book was definitely written by the seat of my pants!
What advice would you give other writers?
My book was written out of love- love for my parents and the memories we created. Not all the memories were necessarily pleasant, but they were important to weave the tapestry of my life. Love for my children and for hopefully, those yet to come. And for the love of creating something enduring, something of worth, something by which to be remembered. I recall the scene from the classic movie, “I Remember Mama” where the mother, at the behest of a famous, well-known author, offers her daughter expert advice, “Write what you know.” Jo and Professor Bhaer had the same conversation in “Little Women.” My advice is to write from your heart.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It took me about two years of work and yet; once I typed that final word, the real struggle began. I had no clue how to get the book published “the old-fashioned way.” Researching on the Internet, I learned about marketing proposals, submission requirements and inquiry letters; the entire undertaking felt like a full time job that required a university degree. Although I received several positive and encouraging emails in reply, no one wanted to pursue the project. It seemed an impossible task for this “newbie” memoir scribbler, so I began considering the self- publishing route with renewed enthusiasm. Createspace seemed to be a good fit for my project. It afforded me the opportunity to publish easily and cost-effectively. The name recognition didn’t hurt either…Amazon, hello?
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I expect that the world of technology will continue to bring about extraordinary changes in the world of book publishing, as well as pretty much everything else in our lives. In today’s society, everything is so fast paced, movies and books are overly violent, extremely sexual… everything is in your face. Having said that, “memoirs” are the catch word of the day. The amount of memoirs on the market is daunting; my wholesome story is competing with some pretty serious material in the same category, not to mention the coming-of-age vampires and charming sorcerers in other genres. The fact that I, an unrepresented novice, can self publish and with the advent of the various social media, promote and market to untold amounts of customers, is thrilling! I think that this format is here to stay.
What genres do you write?
Memoir, Creative Non-Fiction
What formats are your books in?