Barbara Brabec's BIO

Latest Books

IN THE FALL OF 2017, Barbara published a print edition of her second biographical memoir, Marcella's Secret Dreams and Stories—A Mother's Legacy, a book she says will be her legacy to her family.

BARBARA'S FIRST BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR, published in 2010 in print, Kindle and Nook editions, was The Drummer Drives! Everybody Else RidesThe Musical Life and Times of Harry Brabec, Legendary Chicago Symphony Percussionist and Humorist. This book documents Harry's life and Barbara's as the wife of a professional musician. It has touched many hearts and received many glowing five-star reviews on Amazon.

Note from Barbara
about new books
in progress

JULY 2018: "Writing and publishing my second memoir was life-changing for me in many ways, just as my first memoir was. This book taught me a lot more about writing memoir, structuring a reader-friendly book, and publishing through Amazon and Lightning Source.

"I am currently working on a book about Ginger, the dog Harry and I rescued in the wilds of Missouri in the mid-seventies. This is a book I've wanted to write and publish for more than a decade, and I'll be publishing this one as a novel based on fact. See my HOME page for more information."

"At the same time I'm also planning my first book for writers, which will receive all my attention once the above book is published. This book will be based on the successful six-week series of "Life Writing for Pleasure or Profit" workshops I presented in my community in May-June 2018. These workshops have opened new doors for my getting back into public speaking again.

Harry was both a humorist and one of the
most outstanding musicians of his time.BARBARA WAS MARRIED for nearly 44 years to Harry Brabec, who died in 2005. He assisted her in her business for many years and always kept her laughing. His humor has been included in several of Barbara's books and is featured in nearly every chapter of The Drummer Drives! Everybody Else Rides.

See Barbara's memorial to Harry here.

DOWNLOAD BARBARA'S MP3 FILES of her reading selections from THE DRUMMER DRIVES! EVERYBODY ELSE RIDES. Save them to your computer for listening there or move them to your favorite portable listening device.


See related article, "I Already Did That"














































Copyright 2000-2018 by Barbara Brabec. All Rights Reserved.

Barbara Brabec's Bio

(What she has been doing all her life)

Widowed in 2005 after nearly 44 years of marriage and twenty years of leadership in the home business and crafts industries, Barbara Brabec ceased work in those industries and reinvented herself on the Web. Since then she has been moving in new directions as a writer, speaker, Indie Publisher, and author's consultant.

WHAT FOLLOWS BELOW is not just a very long BIO, but a story that summarizes my career accomplishments as I see them now, looking back over my lifetime of self-employment. This is more than the average person wants to know about me, but those who read to the bottom will find some important lessons in how to succeed in their chosen business or life endeavor.

Understand that it's not my intent to brag here—though God knows I've always had an ego that needed to be controlled (and controlling that ego was something my late husband always considered to be one of his most important jobs in life). Rather, I'm simply trying to illustrate how an ordinary person can come from total obscurity with only a high school education and, with little or no money, achieve one goal after another through nothing more than hard work, self-study, and a willingness to keep going even when the future looks bleak.

I hope my story will be an encouragement to individuals who are just starting a business of their own and wondering if they have what it takes to succeed. Or maybe it will encourage someone to keep going if they've just experienced a devastating business setback and are wondering if it's worth the effort to try again.

ABSOLUTELY! I've experienced many small failures in my business life, yet here I am, still going strong past 80 with as much energy and excitement about life as the Energizer Bunny®. Perhaps in the end the real secret to success is just to keep going. Switch tracks if necessary, but keep going.

MY MOTHER ALWAYS TOLD ME I could do anything I wanted to do in life, and she was right. I am entirely self-taught in business and marketing, writing, periodical and book publishing, teaching, speaking, editing, eBook design and publication, using computers and related technology, and designing and managing a website. I'm proof positive that if you can read, and then apply what you've learned, you can achieve success in anything you may be trying to do. Of course, a driving ambition to succeed will speed the process along.

After high school I headed for Chicago, where I worked first as a secretary and then an office manager for ten years. At the same time, I was studying music and eventually became a musical entertainer with a marimba act, doing women's club programs, playing at weddings, and in a swank supper club on the South Shore. (That experience would later make it easier for me to become a public speaker, with my mouth becoming my new instrument.)

My involvement in music eventually put me in the path of Harry Brabec, who swept me off my feet and married me less than three weeks later. Figuring one professional musician in the family was enough, I quit performing after awhile but kept my office job. Later, when Harry asked me to stay at home and just be a wife, I complained that I didn't have enough to do. "Get a hobby," he said, and those three little words ultimately changed not only my life but his, for he eventually found himself being drawn into the field of arts and crafts as a crafts show producer.

Before he knew it, I was out selling my woodcarvings, music boxes and artwork, and asking more questions about how to do this right than we could find answers for. So he suggested we start a magazine for people like me, and even though we knew absolutely nothing about how to do this, we launched Artisan Crafts with Harry on the phone and me on the keys of an electronic typewriter with a lot of letterpress sheets at hand for making headlines. Of course I had already begun to read books on how to design a magazine and succeed as a periodical publisher. (I didn't even consider my lack of writing experience, which to that point included only letters to my mother and my Valedictorian speech.)

After five years—during which time the magazine consumed our lives and all my self-study failed to reveal the secrets of how to survive the recession we were in at the time—we declared this venture to be a "literary success but a financial flop." And that's when I learned one of the most important lessons of my life: that failure is always a beneficial experience when it teaches you what NOT to do the next time around.

If not for that magazine experience and all that I learned about myself and my abilities in the process—plus all the people in the crafts industry that I met during that period who later helped me up the ladder of success—I would not have written my first book or be here on the Web today.

A New Career as a Writer and Publisher

It was at this point that I decided I wanted to be a full-time professional writer. After reading three books on how to write well, I found myself with my first book contract in hand. I then ordered five years' worth of back issues of Writer's Digest to learn how to write a good book readers would enjoy reading. The publisher loved it and, without changing a word of content and giving it only the usual copy edit, he sent it out for typesetting.

Recognizing my business and marketing abilities (and considering all the editors I knew in the crafts industry who would give my book publicity), he then asked me to join the company as his assistant so we could make my book a best-seller. But he died a couple of weeks later in that 1979 crash at O'Hare airport that took the lives of everyone aboard. When I realized that my book was never going to be published in this one-man publishing division if I didn't do something about it, I volunteered to take over his job until a new person could be hired. The company was thinking about closing the book publishing division, but I convinced them I could do the job, and that's how I found myself with the title of publisher and general manager of the book division of Barrington Press, Inc.

Now, with my first book still in the process of being designed and typeset, I suddenly found myself completely responsible for its publication and sales success. (Back to the books again, this time to learn how to be a book publisher, sell to book clubs, and get publicity for a new book.) A mention in Family Circle ultimately sold thousands of books, and the overwhelming amount of fan mail I got from early readers convinced me I should quit this job, go home, and start my own writing and publishing business.

So in 1981, with my husband worrying about the income we were going to lose when I quit this job—and fearful that I might fail, and then what would I do?—I took courage in hand and launched my business at the age of 42 with a thousand dollars borrowed from savings. It was the smartest life decision I ever made.

With Harry's help, I went on to write, edit, and publish a profitable home-business/self-employment subscription newsletter for fifteen years, reading books all the time to keep learning how to refine my publishing and design skills while also improving my copywriting, direct mail marketing, and PR strategies. Between 1981 and 2000, I wrote several new books and updated some older ones. During this period I was also developing expertise as a speaker, first presenting day-long workshops at community colleges, and then moving up to do keynote speeches and break-out workshops at many of the major home-business conferences that were then common in both the U.S. and Canada.

Let me emphasize here that it was always hard for me to move outside my comfort zone to keep trying new things, but I found it fascinating to observe how every new step I was courageous enough to take automatically led to yet another advancement of my business and writing career.

Once I had became known as "a home-business expert," it was easy to build a reputation as "one of America's best-known and most trusted home-business authors and speakers." Because I regularly sent news releases to an ever-growing PR list, I was frequently quoted in the national press and interviewed on dozens of radio and TV news shows. I especially enjoyed my week-long appearance on ABC-TV's Home show, where I appeared as guest expert on their "Homemade Money series" titled after my book (which sold thousands of copies that week).

During this period I was also a featured columnist for several crafts magazines. My "Selling What You Make" column (later renamed "Profits") ran in Crafts magazine for twenty years, becoming at that point the longest-running column of its kind. Regrettably, I lost that column in 2000 because of a ridiculous electronic rights issue.

BY THE END OF 1999 I had stopped speaking and closed down our mail order publishing and book-selling business because Harry's health was failing. I was still working full time, however, now with another book in progress and also as Series Editor for Prima Publishing's line of For Fun & Profit™ books published in 1999-2000.

By now, with the Internet exploding and me still using an old DOS computer and doing email and exploring the Internet via Web-TV (because I didn't want to have to learn how to use a new computer with a Windows operating system), I was feeling totally overwhelmed by technology and beginning to think that, at 62, I was just too old to learn all this "new stuff." Besides, I was convinced that the Internet was the greatest time-waster that ever came down the pike (which is still true if you don't learn how to control yourself), and I was absolutely, positively sure that I would never want (or have need for) a website of my own. A little space on someone else's site would surely be sufficient for my needs (famous last words).

Just when I thought my long successful career was about over, I was stunned to receive a big-bucks offer to be a featured content provider and "personality" on the e-commerce site, IdeaForest/ Although that site didn't survive the big dot-com bust of 2000, this work dramatically changed my life by literally forcing me onto the Internet, into this website, and into a whole new computer/Web/technology learning experience that continues today. (Some of this journey has been documented in articles in the Computertalk department.)

Early in 2000 when the website designer I'd hired to create this website suddenly vanished, I was forced to quickly learn how to manage and redesign it myself with FrontPage software. Later when I learned that much of the HTML code on my website was deprecated, I became one of Boogiejack's students, bought his great book, Website Design Made Easy, and learned how to design my first website from scratch using CSS. I'm still in the process of gradually replacing bad code on this site and making changes that reflect my new personal and business interests. I'm also slowly updating or deleting old articles in the archives and looking for typos and other errors I missed in the early days of building my site when I was too stressed to be able to see all of them.  (When you have a Website, your work is never done.)

Going with the Flow

In 2009, after decades of positioning myself as a "home business expert," I retired from active involvement in the home business industry (been there, done that) so I could focus on my editorial and consulting services for authors. At that time I also began to sell Harry's lifetime collection of books, CDs, and tapes on the Amazon Marketplace and enjoyed great success with this endeavor, earning enough to completely landscape my front and back yards. Today I'm gradually sorting through the 4,000 or so Big Band vinyl records he left me, trying to decide if I should list some of the most collectible ones on Amazon or just put all of them out for sale in my garage one of these springs because there are a lot of collectors in Naperville, IL and I don't have time to mess with this when I've got books waiting for me to write and publish. (See my latest writing/publishing credits at left.)

In Summary

I find it amusing that I feel much younger now (at least mentally) than I did ten years ago, and I know it's because at the turn of the century I began to focus on acquiring new skills and knowledge that would enable me to earn income on the Web as long as I chose to work. Trust me when I say you will NEVER be too old to learn something new.

In my Brabec Bulletins, published irregularly as time allows (or whenever I think I have something to say of interest to my readers), I continue to pass along things I am learning about life as an aging widow, homeowner, self-employed writer, speaker, author's consultant, and independent book publisher. If you'd like to stay in touch with me through my free email bulletins and see what new tricks this old dog is learning, click here to join my mailing list.

And if you actually read to the bottom of this outpouring of words, I thank you kindly for your time and attention. You're probably someone I'd enjoy getting to know better.