Kelly Epperson has been dubbed “Everywoman” and “Rare woman” in the same breath. Kelly’s style is uniquely her own, yet she can relate to all of us. Her weekly columns of life, real everyday life as well as travels through Europe, bring a warmth and a wit that we all long for.
Leaving her job at the IRS ten years ago (it was “sucking the life out of her”), she then embarked on a new career, and served as resident court jester, at a local nonprofit agency that taught English and reading to adults.
Kelly’s motto and quote that hangs over her desk is “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?!” After a year in France, Kelly returned to the states and launched a fulltime career of writer, ghostwriter, and speaker.Every day, she does the happy dance in her kitchen.
To maintain connection and spread a little joy with friends, family, and readers, Kelly recently started a weekly “happy mail” – When Life Stinks, Find Your Joy. To check it out, send Kelly an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly lives in Loves Park, IL (city with a heart) with The Man of the Place, her two teenage sons, who are brilliant and witty of course, and a sweet dog Starburst who sheds like crazy. FYI-Kelly hates dog hair, hence, the essay, “It’s Not Easy Being Cruella DeVil.”
For more info, please visit www.whenlifestinks.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kelly.Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published?Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?
Thank you! When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes is the first book for me. I’ve been writing a weekly newspaper column since May 2001. I still write it every week, and I still love-love-love it. This book is a collection of those humor columns.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
That’s a sticky wicket for me. I never could have predicted that the very first book I would ever write would be for someone else.
I’m a ghostwriter as well as a columnist, a freelance writer, and a speaker. I do all kinds of writing jobs, big and small, but ghostwriting books has become a large chunk of my time and income.
Although I cannot say the title or author due to contract confidentiality, that first book was a wonderful accomplishment, on many levels. I learned that I could indeed write a book. I learned that my writing skills pleased editors and clients. I learned the thrill of making living as a writer.
I have ghostwritten several books in the last two years. Memoirs, business books, even fiction. However, the only book that is mine, mine, all mine, is When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes. It’s my first book that I ever wrote as me, and technically, it’s a cheater. It’s a collection of columns that I wrote over the years, not the great American novel that I spent years writing.
(I’ve got a novel in me too. Give me time!)
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
I self-published. I didn’t try the mainstream route. I assumed automatic rejection and wanted to head it off at the pass. I worked with my writers’ guild and published locally.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Why did this chicken cross the road? To avoid rejection.
I didn’t pitch to agents or publishers. I can’t wallpaper my office with rejection letters. If one does not query, one cannot be rejected. The editor of my local group accepted me with a great big YES.
However, to overcome those moments when I get down on myself, I read emails and notes that I’ve received that pump me up: From the first ghost job I did when the editor said, “You nailed it” to comments from readers: “You are so special, beautiful, inspiring, and funny. Those are just a few of the things I think of when I read anything you write.” I printed that email and it’s taped to my computer.
Most writers have occasional self doubt. Remind yourself in whatever way that works for you that YES! You can do this! Send me an email and I will remind you. (email@example.com)
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
When Life Stinks was published year end 2007. RWG Press is Rockford Writers Guild, my local writers group. I originally thought the book would be just for my regional readership, so that was all I needed. Now, I figure what the heck. Let’s see if people who don’t read my column every week like the little book.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It’s an internal satisfaction for me. Besides doing the happy dance in my kitchen, endless margaritas with friends is a fine celebration.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I’m finally getting around to promotion. J
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
There will be more books from me. I haven’t decided if I’ll self-publish, but I’m thinking that works.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I grow everyday. The more I write, the more I learn. When I read some of my old stuff, I still smile. Some of it stands the test of time and some of it reflects who I was at that moment in my life. A reader once told me, “You write best when you write from the heart.” As long as my heart’s still in it, I’ll do this forever.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I think marketing and promotion have to be the number one priority. I am slow to the game there.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Jumping through the hoops to be accepted by Barnes & Noble was the first big thrill. When my contact, Tes, at Partners Book Distributors called me to say that they would carry my book, I cried. (I’m sappy in my old age.)
Another huge accomplishment for me is overcoming my fear of public speaking. Being a program speaker is now my joy! I have bookings into 2010. I am living proof that it is never too late to be what you might have been. And even chickens can become not-so-chicken.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I did “other professions” – IRS agent, ESL instructor, office work, wife, mom, driver of mini van…….
I LOVE being Kelly Epperson, writer/speaker/listener (and bringer of joy). This is it for me! If you make me choose another profession, I would say I want to sing and dance on Broadway. But that’s fantasy – I can’t sing. And I am not kidding.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Being a writer/creator is my best world. Working from home, surrounded by things that bring me joy…. Pinch me! This is my midlife crisis career and a dream come true. I’ll give up Broadway to pursue this career. J
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Less writing for others, more writing my own stuff. I have launched a joy network (When Life Stinks, Find Joy!) and I plan to do more to be a source of encouragement to others. We all need a pat on the back, a kick in the butt, and stuff that makes us smile.
To sign up for my weekly happy mail, visit www.whenlifestinks.com.
I also have oodles of ideas bouncing in my head. I have started making cards and picture frames (with words of course). I have in the works some clothing ideas. I see lots of great things happening in the next ten years.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
From Winston Churchill:
Never give up.
Never give up.
Never give up.