With memoir, Park City nail professional paints a fresh coat on her life | ParkRecord.com

With memoir, Park City nail professional paints a fresh coat on her life

She says writing the book forced her to confront things from the past

Carly Bennett Stenmark had no visions of writing a book when she began jotting down interesting anecdotes from her career as a nail technician in Park City.

Decades later, though, she can now paint a fresh title on her resume — author. She recently published "More Than a Manicure — The Nail Files," a book that mixes memoir with intriguing stories from clients over the years.

"My life story has been kind of interesting and it's a tell-all, really, of my own life," said Bennett Stenmark, who has operated her nail business in Park City, More Than a Manicure, since the 1990s. "Some of the things I wrote about were like, 'Do I really want to put that out there?' But I did."

Bennett Stenmark decided to write the book only after several clients learned about her past and encouraged her to document her life story. That was 11 years ago. Then, two years ago she attended a writing workshop that provided the final push to get it done.

"I always told people that if I could just sit down and write, it would have been done a lot sooner," she said. "But I have a lot of other things. I have a husband, kids and grandkids and I work more than full time. I had all these things going on."

The experience of writing the book was cathartic for Bennett Stenmark, who said she overcame many struggles when she was young. When she first began doing nails when she was 28, for instance, she was a divorced mother of four.

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At first, she recounted the experiences at a surface level. But her editor pushed her to dig deeper, to find and confront truths within herself that had lain dormant for years.

"I realized that there were a lot things I hadn't really dealt with," she said. "It was almost like a huge sigh once I got through that. I've been open to counseling and things like that through the years. But it was different writing things down and really saying, 'How did I feel about that?'"

Katie Mullaly, whose company, Faceted Press, published "More Than a Manicure," said she was intrigued when she learned of Bennett Stenmark's idea for the book. Reading it, it became clear that Bennett Stenmark's willingness to open up made it a book that will connect with readers on a deep level.

"There's such a humanity in what Carly wrote," she said. "It's so real and so alive and joyous and gut-wrenching and sad, even sometimes at the same time. When someone writes from the core, it goes to your core. And you feel a lot of the same things."

Mullaly added that she's convinced learning about Bennett Stenmark's life will empower those who crack open the book, which is available from Amazon and other major retailers as a paperback or e-book.

"I think it's going to show a lot of other people — not just women — that, yeah, you can have stumbles or hurdles or complete pitfalls in your life and get up and keep going and be bright and humorous about it," she said.

Bennett Stenmark said the response from readers so far has been encouraging. Even people she doesn't know well have said they've been moved by it. Some have even encouraged her to write a sequel.

"I certainly have enough info for more," she said, smiling. "It's just whether I have the time or the lifespan. It took me a long time."