BookPleasures.com - http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher
A Conversation With Kelly McDermott Harman author of Did I Say That Out Loud? : Conversations About Life
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6236/1/A-Conversation-With-Kelly-McDermott-Harman-author-of-Did-I-Say-That-Out-Loud--Conversations-About-Life/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on July 23, 2013
 



                                                                                                                                              

Today, Bookpleasures is pleased to have as our guest Kelly McDermott Harman author of Did I Say That Out Loud? : Conversations About Life.

Good day Kelly and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Kelly:

Thank you for inviting me, Norm. I was born in Asmara, Ethiopia and spent the first 16 years of my life overseas. My father worked for the CIA, and our family moved to a different country every two years.

I have lived in Ethiopia, Brazil, Okinawa, Pakistan, Thailand, India, Belgium, and Greece. I have a very close family, and it was a wonderful way to grow up. I had a hard time adjusting to living in the US, and as a teenager I would say I put my parents through a lot of grief.

I had my son, Gary, when I was 18 years old. I had no business having a baby. For example, I didn't know you could put babies down so I held him non-stop for the first three days after bringing him home. I was miserable and wanted to give him back to the hospital. When I learned I could actually put him down, things got a lot better.

I was married to Gary's dad for about four and a half minutes and then found myself raising this child on my own. I worked three jobs until I could afford to work two jobs, and then just one job.

I went to a goal setting workshop once when I was 21 and the instructor had us sit in a circle and share our goals with each other. People shared things like, "I want to make $250,000 next year," and "I want to buy a boat next year," and other, similar desires. When it came to me, I announced, "I would like to have a comma in my checkbook on a regular basis." To me, it seemed just as unattainable as a new boat.

My career (once I graduated from waitressing, selling cable television door-to-door, and working down in the pits at the local drag race track) centered around sales and marketing.

While I've always written, much of it was around finding ways to get people to buy whatever technology product I was selling. I have worked for corporations and also had my own marketing agency. Both were fun and exhausting for a variety of reasons.

Today I am currently free-lancing as an out-sourced CMO to about five technology companies. It is a lot of fun, and I enjoy the freedom to make my own schedule.

Norm:

What purpose do you believe Did I Say That Out Loud: Conversations About Life serves and what matters to you about your book?

Kelly:

One of my creative outlets has been writing funny stories for my friends. I have done this for a long time, and several years ago I started a blog called, "Did I Say That Out Loud?"

It became the repository for my stories and the eventual catalyst for my book. You can read the stories and take them at face value, as funny moments in life, which I hope they are. But more importantly, I want people to read about my misadventures and see themselves in some of them.

A lot of the stuff I go through is not special - everyone faces similar incidents or challenges. I just tend to see things in a funnier light. I hope that people reading these stories will identify with them, will be able to see their own challenges in a more humorous light. I also want my readers to finish the book with an appreciation for the great relationship I have with my husband, Bob, and the love I have for my kids, parents, and siblings.

Norm:

Why have you been drawn to writing humor? As a follow up, are there aesthetic advantages and disadvantages peculiar to humor writing? Does it even have a form?

Kelly:

I've been drawn to writing humor because I am such a smart aleck. Seriously, things slip from my mouth before I even realize they are in my brain. I also believe that you can survive just about anything if you can find something to laugh about.

Over the years my family has faced many challenges, and without exception, we always seemed to find a way to laugh our way through the hard times. It helps tremendously. As for writing humor, it is extremely difficult. You can't just flip a switch and say, "I'm going to write funny today." In fact, every time I've sat down to purposely "write funny," I pretty much want to kill myself after five minutes.

You ask if humorous writing has a form, and I would say it has about a zillion forms. I never stop being amazed at how many different ways humor can weave its way into our lives. And most of them I will never master, nor would I attempt to do so, I'll leave it to the experts.

Norm:

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Kelly:


One of the big lessons I had was going through the exercise of deciding which stories were going to find their way into the book. They were all my babies, and I had to listen to someone tell me that some of my babies were ugly.

I tried not to be defensive, and I sincerely appreciated how difficult it must have been to tell me that some of my heartfelt stories were not going to make the cut. Another lesson was around editing. I had several people edit my book, and I read each chapter out loud until I hated every sentence. I sent the last version of the manuscript to a professional editor and paid her to review the document. I was pretty smug, and told her that she would probably not find much to correct. She smiled sweetly and came back five days later with nine (NINE) single spaced pages of corrections. I loved her and hated her all at the same time.

I also learned (or maybe the correct term is "re-learned") how much I love the writing process, and the satisfaction I derive from having people tell me I made them laugh.

Norm:

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Kelly:

Getting my butt in the chair and actually writing. It takes great discipline. You can't sit around and wait to feel inspired. At least, I can't. I have to make a point of writing every day. Sometimes it is only for 30 or 40 minutes, and other times it is for two or three hours. It is sort of like going to the gym. Once you get into the habit of working out regularly, it is easy. But if you let a couple weeks go by without exercising, then getting your butt to the gym for that first time again is a killer. No matter what, though, I cannot write for longer than about three hours a day because after that my brain melts into my spine.

Norm:

Do you have a specific writing style and how has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Kelly:

I write best in the morning because that is when my brain is the clearest. I get up anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00 am, have a cup of tea and mediate for about 15 minutes. Then I hit my computer and start writing. If I don't do that first, the rest of the day will get in my way and I'll skip my writing time. I am forever collecting ideas on little scraps of paper, post-it notes, and napkins. I collect type them into my "Notes" app on my Mac. I turn to that list for inspiration sometimes, but I often have ideas in my head from recent experiences I have had. I tend to write the whole story in one sitting, then I will go back and edit. I edit my stories a lot, and the finished version is often extremely different from the first few rounds.

As long as I have my laptop, I can write just about anywhere. Noise doesn't bother me, but I cannot work in a messy room. My office is very tranquil and I love spending time there. I sometimes go to a local coffee shop and work there for a change of scenery. I love this particular shop because the owner will make me a half ham sandwich instead of making me purchase a whole one.

As for my upbringing, I would say it colors almost every aspect of my writing. Living in so many different countries in my youth has definitely given me a broad tolerance for different cultures and beliefs. Growing up as a teen mom and working three jobs to put food on the table gave me an appreciation for hard work and the struggles that we all go through to get ahead in our lives. Being married to Bob for 23 years (and counting!) helps me understand what it takes to stay in love with the same person for more than two decades. All of that colors the way I describe things, how I interpret people's behavior, and the lens I use to look at the world.

Norm:

What do you think makes a good story?

Kelly:

Brevity

Norm:

What does your family think of your writing your book?

Kelly:

They are all extremely proud of me. My mother immediately purchased eight copies from Amazon (she didn't even ask for the family discount!). The moment they arrived she had my Dad drive an hour to my house so I could autograph each one before she mailed them out to various family members. There are two stories in the book, "Mom Says You're Adopted" parts one and two, that are about my sister and brother, respectively. I sent each of them their story before finalizing the manuscript so they could approve what I had written. I didn't want to write anything that would embarrass either of them. My husband is also very proud, although he says that since he has been my straight man for 23 years, he thinks he should get part of the book royalties.

Norm:

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Kelly:

I do hear from them and it is always gratifying. I love it when a reader will email me and tell me which story was their favorite. Or they will refer to one of my stories and tell me about an event in their lives that was similar.

Two of the most gratifying comments I have received were not from the reader directly, but from someone close to the reader. In one case, a woman has been battling an illness for almost 18 months. In another case, the woman has been taking care of a very sick child for almost a year. What both people did was to thank me for writing the book, because in both cases, the women were laughing for the first time in a long while.

One said she was savoring the book, and only reading two or three stories a night so she could make it last. I can't explain how humbling this is for me, to be told the effect my stories have on someone, and how much it makes me want to continue writing my stories.

Norm:

How can readers find out more about you and Did I Say That Out Loud: Conversations About Life?

Kelly:

They can subscribe to my BLOG. I am also on Goodreads. I also welcome emails, they can reach me at kellyoutloud @ gmail .com

Norm:

What is next for Kelly McDermott Harman?

Kelly:

I am working on my next book, which is a memoir about my family and our experiences overseas. It is from the perspective of my mother, and also weaves in the stories of many of the other women who were married to men who also worked for the CIA.

These women are in their 70's and 80's now, and they have fascinating stories to tell. Just think about it, these incredible women grew up in an era that prepared them to get married, live in a house with a white picket fence, and raise the children in Small Town, USA. Instead they found themselves in the middle of locust swarms, dust storms, military evacuations, and any number of other adventures. Nobody has ever told their story or honored the contribution these women made to our country. The book is tentatively called, "Cold War Wives."

I also continue to write my funny stories, some of which I post on my blog and others I keep secret so when I publish the next Did I Say That Out Loud? book, there will be lots of surprises.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Kelly:

I don't know if it so much a question that I want to answer, as much as a word of encouragement I want to give. I am 50 years old and just published my first book. I hear so many women (and men) say things like, "Oh I wish I had done this or that, but now it is too late." Trust me, it is never too late. Just figure out where to start and then take the first step. That is the scariest part. The rest is a lot of fun.

Norm:

Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Did I Say That Out Loud?

Follow Here To Purchase Did I Say That Out Loud?: Conversations About Life