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