My daughter was in a hurry to get to work the other day. She was dressed in a black skirt, cream silk shirt and black patent leather heels. I was sitting at the computer (shocker--I know) and I heard the clunk, bam, bumpity-bump, crash of her falling down the stairs. Then, I heard . . . laughter. It hurt like heck but she found it incredibly funny. I loved that she could laugh. If you can't laugh when you're down, then you got a long, hard road ahead of you.
That's why I'm thrilled to post an interview with Kersten Campbell. She's discovered the secret of happiness . . . laughter.
In her new book, Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother Kersten expertly writes on the escapades of daily life that any woman can relate to. With subjects ranging from zucchini crime to selling rocks to the neighbors, this book is sure to please any mother who is overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, bored, or ultimately happy. Mothers and grandmothers everywhere will find therapy and comfort through the humor of these hilarious escapades.
Kersten Campbell grew up in Wisconsin until she turned sixteen, when her family moved to Boise, Idaho. When she protested the move, her father said, Don t worry, you ll probably find some nice Mormon boy to marry. Confused, Kersten replied, What s a Mormon? She soon found out and joined the LDS Church at age twenty-one. She earned a bachelor s degree from the University of Idaho in English Literature and has written many articles for Church publications and other magazines. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, family history research, playing the clarinet, and playing with children.She and that nice Mormon boy live in Washington with their five beautiful children.
Here's the inteview with Kersten:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
KERSTEN: I think I only fully realized it after I became a mother. I’ve always loved to read. My parents had my hearing tested because I was always so lost in a book that I couldn’t hear them calling me. I studied literature in college because I loved to read. But I didn’t realize that I could write until after I started sending in little articles here and there and kept getting published. It was then that I realized I loved to write. And the wonderful experience of becoming a mother made me realize that I had a message about motherhood that needed to be shared: how to enjoy it, in spite of its ups and downs.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
KERSTEN: I started by trying to write a teenage romance novel. It was terrible! And it seemed to be getting worse each time I tried to fix it. Then, on a whim I decided to see if I could write humor that would make people laugh. I began to write little humor vignettes about motherhood on a blog, and the few people who read the blog loved the stories and kept telling me they laughed until they cried. So, after a while of doing this I decided to collect what I had written and see if I could get it published. The first publisher turned me down and I was so discouraged I tried to file it away forever. But as I was putting the file in the drawer something stopped me and told me to give it one more try. I did, and the next publisher liked it.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
KERSTEN: Whenever I get discouraged as a writer, whether it be an article or a book that gets rejected, I always remember one piece of writing advice that I read in a book. Always keep writing. It takes away the sting of rejection to be fully involved in your next project. I always try to start on something new the minute I send something in to a publisher.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
KERSTEN: I have five children ages 3-14, so I don’t have much time to actually sit down and write. Right now I write during my youngest son’s nap which gives me about two hours per day on weekdays. Now that the book is published I have to use those two hours to work on publicity for the book as well. I try not to be at the computer when the kids are home or awake because they don’t like it. I’m not always successful, but I try. I don’t write on the weekends in order to spend time with the family. If I’m really pressed I’ll write late at night.
M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?
KERSTEN: I think it was the Holy Ghost, because the idea just hit me out of the blue and surprised me. I had never even been a joking type person before. It was crazy to think I could write things that would make people laugh. Even now I can feel inspiration as I continue to write humor stories. I am positive that I am receiving help so that I can accomplish much in the little time that I have, and so I always try hard to qualify for the Holy Ghost, in order not to lose this gift the Lord has given me.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?
KERSTEN: First, never give up. Even if you aren’t good at writing, you will get better if you keep doing it. Writing is something that can be learned. I know. I’m a formerly non-funny person writing humor books. Secondly, be patient. Don’t sacrifice what’s most important in life to achieve your dream. The Lord knows your desire to write, and I believe that when the gospel and our family come first, He blesses us with every good thing that we desire as long as it is in accordance with His plan. He will open up doors of opportunity for us when it is our time. Meanwhile…keep writing, so you’re ready when it happens!! Keep sending in those manuscripts! And keep praying!
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
KERSTEN: I like to take a couple of days to brainstorm an idea. I write down every funny thing I can think of that will go along with my subject. I also have a worksheet of plot and character questions that I fill out for each story. Sometimes I do research on the internet. Then I stew on it for a day, until the plot begins to form in my mind. After that, I may outline, or I may just sit down and write, depending on how clearly I can see the story in my head. But I’m always surprised by what comes out. The story I write always deviates from the one that I planned to write.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?
KERSTEN: Yes, often! If that happens I take a break. I walk around, do a chore and think while I work. If it still doesn’t come to me, I wait another day. Praying helps too. Usually the solution comes when I’m pondering in the shower or while I exercise.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?
KERSTEN: I need absolute silence. If there is any noise or music I can’t think. I spend a lot of time staring at walls in silence…just thinking.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
KERSTEN: My family is my inspiration. They are so crazy and funny. I keep index cards in all my pockets and write down the hilarious things they do and say. Then I file the index cards in a box and look at them later to become inspired as to what to write.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
KERSTEN: Other than my husband, who supports me, it would have to be Patrick McManus, the author. His books taught me that humor doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, sarcastic, or put people down. It can be uplifting. I love his stories. I wanted to do something like that with a family theme in order to inspire mothers to laugh and enjoy the craziness of family life and not be discouraged.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
KERSTEN: My husband is my critique group. I have never had time to search one out or to go to regular meetings, and so I have relied on his advice. Luckily he’s a realist and will tell it like it is. I can rely on him for complete honesty when I’ve written something terrible.
M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
KERSTEN: Just that I’m old. Not ancient, but I am almost forty and just now getting my first book published. It’s okay if it takes a long time before your dream comes true. Sometimes there are other things that you need to experience first. And in the end your writing will be better for it. I know mine is.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
KERSTEN: Yes. One final confession. All reports of me being addicted to chocolate doughnuts are absolutely true. I’m eating one right now, in fact.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
KERSTEN: Right now you can get “Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother” through my publisher at http://www.cedarfort.com/ under “new releases”. Within the next month the books will be available at all LDS bookstores and online, including sites such as amazon.com, Seagull, and Deseret Book.
I can't wait for Kersten's book to come out. I can think of about twenty people, including myself, that could use a book filled with laughter and hope. This is the perfect book for birthdays, Mother's Day or just for someone who needs a little boost during a rough time in their life.