MOMSTER author Laura Jensen-Kimball, is the mother of four children, married to Jeff and a member of the SCBWI. She was inspired to write after her youngest child was diagnosed with a speech delay. Books were a common tool used in improving his speech. Laura creates books with a touch of humor she feels both parent and child will enjoy. Living in Norwalk, Iowa, she is also a Registered Nurse currently pursuing her Masters in Nursing. She has direct insight and experience with the emotion expressed throughout MOMSTER. Entertainment will start at page one and a, “Read it again!” will follow the last. This is Laura’s first book and hopes to publish her other stories soon. For more information about Laura go to http://www.wackystackbooks.com/blog/momster/
What inspires you to write?
Life is full of inspiration and my best ideas comes from daily interactions with my children and people. Ideas pop into my mind all the time and the key is writing them down so I don’t forget. I have an “idea book” filled with chicken scratches and many thoughts that have potential to become a story. It has proven difficult turning these ideas into an actual story but I’ve managed to write seven children’s stories that I hope to share. The inspiration for MOMSTER definitely came from caring for my four children and the repetitive behavior that they display. My kids are great but why do my eyeballs have to bulge and my voice take a vicious turn before they will do what I ask? I’m just talking about simple requests like, “Go brush your teeth or go take a shower.” Nice mommy has very little influence on my kids and I have found through talking to other mothers that most kids finally react when we turn into MOMSTER. This book explains to children why mom gets angry and how powerful a hug and apology can be.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I start developing an idea the first thing I do is brainstorm. Typically, these are just sentences that explain what I want to happen. For example, in MOMSTER, I wanted mom to start out looking happy, then after she was repeatedly ignored by her obtuse son, you can see her transformation. Making sure the young reader realized this change was the result of their actions was important. There needed to be an apology and tenderness when they reconcile. Descriptive words have their own category, unique to each story. For MOMSTER, it was a list like “spit was flying, red face, hands like claws, comic relief-baby, messy teen.” These adjectives came straight from personal experience, just ask my kids. This phase starts on notebook paper and as it develops I’ll transfer it to my laptop. MOMSTER is a story told in rhyme and if the words are off-beat, it will fail. Using a metronome helped me “keep the beat” and I recommend using one when writing poetry or a rhyming story. Drawing is not my specialty but I have a vivid imagination. Collaborating with my extremely talented illustrator, Peter Mahr, was so exciting. Watching my imagination come to life with each new illustration was exhilarating and a feeling that I feel privileged to have experienced.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Notoriously known to talk to myself anyway, talking to my characters as I write is considered normal in my home. This is really important when you are imagining the illustrations. My MOMSTER character needed to represent moms in general and her experiences should be common. Even talking to my kids about her characteristics was great research. Trying to communicate want each picture should explain was a daunting task for me. I did not want the story lost in translation, literally. A friend of mine who had already published her first book told me that finding an illustrator was like wedding dress shopping. When you find the right one it fits perfect. In my opinion the illustrations are as important as the words on each page and together is where the magic happens.
Who are your favorite authors?
Prior to having children I really enjoyed reading romance and fictional stories. Regardless of the genre, books that make me laugh are my favorite. I love an author with a great sense of humor and my love for children books started when my oldest son and I attended out first library story time. We would fill our book bag weekly and devour the books when we got home. Spending time with my children reading books is a great communication tool. We talk about the characters in the book, their actions and feelings and what lesson was taught.
I read more children’s books than anything else, but I did enjoy the Twilight Sage and Hunger Games trilogy. One of my guilty pleasures is watching a movie made off of a book and pick it apart. I have yet to see Hollywood tell a story better then the author and that is not a cut-down to movie producers but a compliment to authors.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Writing is a luxury. Time is needed to write and that is not something I have a lot of. As a mother of four very active children and a full-time student, finding time to write is hard to do. My youngest son inspired me to finally publish one of my stories. You would think that my youngest child would have an extended vocabulary especially since he hears all kinds of new words daily, some inappropriate from his older brothers. With three older siblings, all advanced in their reading capabilities, I assumed he would surly follow suit. Actually, Jack did not say more than two word sentences until he was almost four. The lack of speech caused Jack great frustration and playing with other children seemed difficult. He was diagnosed with a speech delay at two years old and started working with speech therapists in our home. The “tool” they used the most to advance Jack’s speech, were books. The therapists didn’t just read to him, the way I had for years. They would have him point to pictures while repeating them over and over, enunciating sounds. Eventually Jack’s speech improved and he was caught up to his peers. I was inspired by the profound effect books had on my child that I decided to publish one of my many children’s stories.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of book publishing is changing at a dramatic rate. With resources like Amazon, CreateSpace, Shutterfly, Lulu and other self publishing outlets, the game is changing. At the onset of publishing my book, I assumed submitting it to a traditional publisher would be fairly simple. To describe it as difficult is an under statement. It was recommended to find an agent since most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Becoming a SCBWI member opened my eyes to the “real world.” Through their website and manual I learned how to write a manuscript, a query letter and found a few publishers that would consider my manuscript. These submissions turned into rejection letters and I decided to ” take the bull by the horns” and do it myself. The end result is something I am very proud of and am beyond excited to share MOMSTER with the world.
What genres do you write?
Children’s Picture Books
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Audiobook