Multi-tasker mom pens a manual
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT) - Sara Ellington may seem like your typical stay-at-home mom: driving carpools, volunteering at her kids' school, worrying about what to serve for dinner.
And she did it while raising two young kids, battling cancer and knowing essentially nothing about getting a book published.
"I needed something that was mine," explains Ellington, who found it harder than she expected when she left her marketing job in 2000 to become a stay-at-home mom. "It's hard to put yourself out there like that ... (I) decided it was better to try and fail then to wonder 'what if.'"
"The Must-Have Moms Manual" is a sort of she said/she said about mothering that Ellington wrote with best friend Stephanie Triplett of suburban Atlanta. Triplett loved breastfeeding, Ellington didn't. Triplett returned to work and used daycare, Ellington stayed at home. The book's key message: There's no one right way to do this parenthood thing. It spans birth to 6 years.
Ellington, 39 and a blogger for MomsCharlotte.com, the Observer's Web site for parents, expects sales to exceed the 10,000 copies of her first book, "The Mommy Chronicles," which details the emails she and Triplett exchanged during their pregnancies and childbirths.
"Our hope is that the book is so useful if someone asks you to borrow your copy, you'll say, 'No, get your own,'" Ellington said.
Ellington and Triplett met in the late-90s in Norfolk, Va., where they both worked at an ad agency.
Triplett, 42, is the tall, blonde beauty, the one who executes the perfect party and then is the life of it. She's married to a comedy hypnotist, and the two trade jabs like a comedy team of their own. Ellington describes her as "a fish who's attracted to anything shiny."
Ellington, on the other hand, is the planner. "She has a friggin' system for everything _ from grocery shopping to putting away toys," laughs Triplett. "If the Container Store knew her name, they'd give her her own parking space."
Ellington's lakeside home is impeccable and when a task is set before her, she researches it to death. In her writing, be assured her grammar is impeccable. Husband, David _ an account manager for Verizon Wireless _ loves do-it-yourself projects, which sometimes drives his wife crazy.
Triplett recalls the seminal moment when she knew the two were destined to become great friends.
"We went to lunch and the girls in our office were the hoity-toity type, ordering salad with dressing on the side," Triplett said. "We went to Chili's and Sara goes, 'I'll have the fried chicken with mashed potatoes.' I was like, 'Oh yes, this girl is going to be my buddy.'"
A few years later, they both moved, Ellington to Charlotte and Triplett to Atlanta. They both found out within weeks of each other that they were pregnant and the emails began.
"The initial reason for saving (the emails) was for our own use, to remember all those details," Ellington said. "Then the book idea came about. It wasn't contrived, these were our real conversations. Stephanie would tell people we were writing a book without knowing it."
As they compiled the book, they began intensely researching the publishing industry. They read books on writing proposals, attended conferences, "soaked up all the information we could," Ellington said.
After just a few rejections, they found an agent and got a contract with Hay House, a publisher in California. It was quite a coup, considering that only 1 to 2 percent of books pitched every year get published, according to industry statistics. "The Mommy Chronicles" did well _ Ellington calls it a "tax write-off" _ but the two authors realized this wasn't going to make them millionaires. And, they would have to do most of the promotional work themselves.
"People think you're going to leave the neighborhood and move to a bigger house," Ellington said. "You can't just write one book and think that's going to make me a million dollars. You have to build this like a career."
Their career got a nice boost in 2005 when Hay House asked the women to host a mommy radio show every Friday afternoon. The publisher shipped them equipment to set up in their basements, trained them for 20 minutes and they went live on the air. Soon after, Sirius radio picked up the show. Again, real life didn't change much. They didn't even get paid for the show.
"I would pick up the kids (Anna is now 8, Cade is 5) from school at 3:30, drop off two other kids (in her carpool) and screech to the house," Ellington said. "Most of the time David could be home to watch the kids, but in a couple of instances (on the show) you can hear a 'Mommy' or a dog barking."
Both women knew what an interesting story they made _ two moms, talking about parenthood, in their basements. So, they emailed the ...
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