Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stephanie Stiles knows how to take it like a mom...plus a book giveaway

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

Stephanie Stiles is a debut author on the chick lit scene, however she has a lot of experience with creative writing, having been an English professor and even writing a book on the topic. Her novel, "Take it Like a Mom" (reviewed here), is a hilarious look at motherhood and all the expectations that come with it. (I'm reading it now and I love it!) Not only does her book make me laugh, but I was also cracking up while reading her answers to my questions. She and I even have some things in common, like having a son (even though I have two of those) and a daughter and having moved from New Jersey to a different state on the east coast.

Find out more about Stephanie and what makes her so sweet and funny by visiting her on Facebook. You can also check out her guide to creative writing, "From 'Huh?' to 'Hooray!'"

Thanks to Erin Galloway at Penguin Group we have three copies of "Take it Like a Mom" for some lucky readers in the US and Canada.

What was your biggest challenge while writing "Take it Like a Mom?"
Laundry. Who invented the idea of multiple outfits? And why do my kids go through tee-shirts by the baker’s dozen every single day? I’ve even washed socks that are still paired up together...so I know someone in my house is simply dumping clean clothes back in the laundry basket in order to avoid putting them away (I’m looking at you, Nick). So, I would like to ask: would it be wrong to send my family out the door wearing Hefty Bags of various sizes? I’d hose them off every now and again, really, I would. Cuz, if it weren’t for laundry, I could easily see myself finishing, say, a shopping list...and maybe, just maybe, a book or two down the line.

What was the most nerve-wracking (or exhiliarating) part of sending off your manuscript to agents?
The fact that my baby daughter hurled on my lap just as I was hitting “Send.” That was the nerve-wracking one. And, then, discovering that the pants I was wearing at the time weren’t my “good” yoga pants. That was the exhiliarating part. Still, hurl aside, sending it off did remind me of mailing fan letters to Barry Manilow and Ralph Macchio when I was way too young (okay, fourteen) to realize how uncool that was.

Do you have plans for another fiction book in the next year or two?
I have a huge new washer and dryer, so I think I may just have a crack at it. Now, I just need for my family to take up either more sleeping or meditation (hey, I just typed medication by -- wink, wink – “accident”), and the book I’m working on now, Quitting Time, stands some chance of getting finished. It’s about a mom who quits her high-powered job to raise the twins she’s about to deliver. It’s a real tour-de-force, sure to land a ton of awards I haven’t yet heard of or know exist. But you can bet I’ll keep that little secret under wraps when I’m at the podium collecting my statue (do they give statues to authors? I’ll have to Google that).

Since you are well versed in creative writing, what is your advice for someone who has trouble putting an idea to paper (or computer screen these days)?
As I see it, advice is like anger – it’s much better to give it than to receive it. Does anyone ever really listen to other people’s advice, anyway? So, can I give some “unadvice” instead – based on the “helpful” hints I was offered along the way? For example, I cannot tell you how many people instructed me “to just write through the writer’s block!” And they always said this in a snappy, cheerful kind of tone, as though I was just in need of a peppy attitude in order to crank out the next War and Peace. Seriously, if all I needed was a little zip in my step in order to become Leo Tolstoy, I’d gladly swig Red Bull laced with Starbucks. However, in my case, it wasn’t caffeine that was lacking; more often than not, it was a shortage of reality tv. Honestly, is there nothing television can’t cure? Because, really, after hearing the words, “rose,” “journey,” and “alliance” enough times, who wouldn’t be inspired to try writing their own material?

If "Take it Like a Mom" were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
This? Right here? Is the very question that keeps me up at night. Of course, I’m usually trying to tease out who would play me in the movie version of my own life, but, you know, it’s a similar principal. And so far, the front runners (for "Take It Like a Mom" or for the movie version of my life – I’m not picky, as long as George Clooney directs) are (in no particular order): Reese Witherspoon, Beyonce, and Tina Fey. I’m open to suggestions, however – just please don’t let it be anyone with her own line of handbags. That’s never a good omen.

Name a celebrity who shares a birthday with you.
I’m going to answer that two ways. The first? By memory. I’m pretty sure Madonna and Michael Jackson were both born in August – and, really, were there finer Leos than the two of them? (Suck on it, Herbert Hoover – I know you were a Leo, too). Now, I’m going to do a quick Google search and get back to you. Hey, what do you know? Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Aniston’s new “It” guy, Justin Theroux, were both born on August 10. I guess I can blame the two of them for hoarding all the hot genes for that particular day of the year. Couldn’t I have shared a birthday with, maybe, Orson Welles or my old lunchlady with the unibrow and man-hands?

What is your favorite thing about living in New Jersey?
Easy. The television shows bearing this proud state’s name in their titles. However, truth be told: my family and I relocated to Connecticut recently. It was one of the few remaining states without a "Real Housewives" filmed there, so I figured living in such uncharted territory would up my chances of making my reality television debut. I’m practising knocking tables over and launching eff-bombs, as we speak. So, when they come to ring my doorbell, I’ll be ready.

What is the cutest or funniest thing one of your kids said or did recently?
When my son shooed me back inside as his bus was rounding the bend toward our driveway, I quipped, “Gee, thanks a lot. I’m not a complete loser, you know.” To which he smiled and replied, “You’re right. You’re a loser, just not a complete loser.” Ah, brings a tear to my eye as I reflect on it. From the mouths of babes...

When did you last have a date night with your husband and what did you do?
You’re kidding, right? This is a joke question? Because if you’re serious, I’m going to have to come up with a very convincing scenario that is purely fiction. If, however, you’re joking, well, then I can be honest and laugh along with the joke. Oh, ah-hah! Date night! Right! Sure! We have one every Friday, and we gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes over a candlelight dinner, while we talk of nothing but our eternal love. Oh, wait. You were serious? Um. I think we went out for dinner (KFC) about a month ago. And, while I’m not positive, I’m pretty sure we fought about deck furniture the whole time. No, I’m wrong. We fought about the temperature in the car, as well. But, you see, that’s the kind of loving, supportive relationship we’re all about.

What piece of advice drove you crazy (or you completely disagreed with) when either (or both) of your children were born?
Who doesn’t have a great answer for this one? And it’s exactly why I believe in “unadvice” rather than advice. Pretty much all the advice I received drove me crazy; but isn’t that always the case with advice? I mean, really. Lose Those Ten Pounds Painlessly! Six Quick Dinners Your Family Will Love! Three Easy Moves To Make Him Feel Special. Come on. Does anyone actually follow these steps? So, I’d have to say, hearing Person #647 tell me at the local SuperSaver to “enjoy every minute of it; it goes by so fast!” just as my kids were screaming, punching, crying, and/or stealing the dusty runaway grapes from off the produce floor really did me in. Why? Why did I have to enjoy every minute of it? Some minutes just plain suck. And as far as going by fast, I gotta say, those few seconds of seeing my toddler select the dirty floor-grape, lift it lovingly to his mouth, and place it rapturously on his tongue, ran like the slow-mo replay of an entire football game. Especially when I saw how many people were watching, just waiting to offer me their advice!

Special thanks to Stephanie for sharing her thoughts with us and to Erin for providing the books for the giveaway.

How to win "Take it Like a Mom":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is the most annoying advice you've ever received as a mom? (Or...If you don't have kids, what is something someone else has done to annoy you in regards to their kids? i.e. Letting them break stuff in your house and not apologizing.)

2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends July 24th at midnight EST.


holdenj said...

This looks like a fun book, I enjoyed Stephanie's interview. Laundry is a big deal around here too and the only saving grace is that there's often time to read between loads!

holdenj said...

I am a GFC follower.

holdenj said...

Most annoying advice would lead back to dear m-i-l. I know it was usually generational, but there was no way I was going to start giving either of my kids solid food at 3 weeks. Now my husband turned out ok, so I always knew she meant well, but also could push those new mom buttons!

Kritters Ramblings said...

I am not a mother, but I think the worst comment I have heard is when I say to other women that I am not sure if I will have kids ever - they get a crazy face and say you have to have kids, you know maybe it just isn't for me.

member on facebook
follow this blog

colleen said...

I'm a follower on facebook.

colleen said...

Sorry I was paying attention to where the curser was

Nina said...

Love the Ralph Macchio mention! ;) I'm not a mother, though when my nephew wrote on my living room rug in green sharpie marker and my sister didn't seem to think the (PERMANENT!) marker was an issue, I was a little disappointed at her lack of concern. ;D

Anonymous said...

I just finished the book and loved it. Funny, light, summer reading. Well worth the time. Can't wanit for a follow-up novel!

Kim W. said...

Great interview! And sounds like a great book, too!

1. I was told that I shouldn't tickle my 1 year old as it "wasn't good for them". I wasn't just told this once, I was told this twice, and by two random strangers! I don't know about you, but tickling my kids in the shopping cart was a good way to keep them busy and distracted while waiting in line at the grocery store!!

2. I follow the CLC blog

3. Posted contest on Facebook

4. I follow CLC on Facebook


Literary Chanteuse said...

My mother in law or should I say monster in law suggested when my daughter was only a few months old to take her out of her car seat to calm her down, while we were driving on a busy freeway. She's from another country where the laws are completely different but okay how crazy is that?! I'm a follower. Thanks!


Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a terrific book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

The most annoying advice I ever got was to discipline my child more. I got so tired of hearing that. He grew up before autism spectrum disorders diagnoses were available but he would definitely have fit right in. Instead he was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD and ODD which didn't quite cover the spectrum of his situation. People need to leave parenting to the parents.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

steph said...

Nothing like sharing the misery of awful advice, is there? And, Holden, if you can read between loads, clearly, your kids aren't going through enough tee-shirts :-)

And for those with no kids, stay strong. I was married for twelve years before having my son; can you imagine the comments I got during that time? Then, after I had him, I got even more comments about the problems of having only one child. Now, I have two, and I'm still hearing comments. People LOVE to -- ahem -- "share" their opinions. And whether you have no kids, one kid, or nineteen kids and counting, that just ain't going to change, is it?!?!

Thanks for the comments!
--Steph Stiles

StereoQueenBee said...

. Please tell us: What is the most annoying advice you've ever received as a mom? (Or...If you don't have kids, what is something someone else has done to annoy you in regards to their kids? i.e. Letting them break stuff in your house and not apologizing.)

I hate parents who let their children throw tantrums in public!

2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).

Already follow this blog.

3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Posted on Facebook (Sabrina-Kate Eryou)
Posted on Twitter (stereoqueenbee)

4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

Am already a member!

Jeryl M. said...

Sounds like a good book. I'd like to read it.


Jeryl M. said...

I don't remember the most annoying thing anybody said to me, but I remember once we were in a restaurant and my oldest daughter was about 3 or 4 was acting up a little bit, and the waitress gave us a nasty look. It really annoyed me because my daughter was usually very well behaved in public and she actually wasn't bothering anybody else except this one waitress who apparently didn't think kids should go out on public or something. To me, it was like she was commenting that I was a bad mother.

I am a subscriber.

I am a Facebook fan.


holdenj said...

Steph, it's also extremely possible that you are doing a much better job with your laundry! :)

I cannot wait to read this book!

steph said...

A complement about my laundry skills?!?! While I'm sure I don't deserve it, I am definitely going to take it! Wow -- good at doing laundry. You know, that's quite possibly (definitely) the nicest thing anyone's said to me in eight years.
Thanks for making my decade! -- Steph

The Book Chick said...

I would love to win this one!!!! Stephanie Stiles is hilarious, I loved her interview answers!


Okay, here are my answers:

1. Okay, this isn't advice per se, but I really hate it when people see me out with my three boys, when they aren't behaving and they say "Well, you've got your hands full". Oh, thanks, wouldn't have noticed that without your comment, LOL.

2. You know I'm a GFC follower! Love you guys!!

3. This contest is posted at http://book-chic.blogspot.com on the sidebar.

4. I'm one of CLC's Facebook peeps.

Okay, that's all, thanks for the chance to win!

Anonymous said...

This books sounds great and I enjoyed the interview

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book!!


steph said...

Thanks for all the comments, guys! I really hope you like the book -- let me know on Facebook or at stephanie@stephaniestiles.com!
I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks --Steph!

shanaelyse said...

This looks like a great read!

I don't have any kids, but I get annoyed with some parents who say their kid is "creative" or "energetic" when the more appropriate word is "misbehaving."

I follow CLC blog on GFC, and I also like you on FB!