Author Interview – Jill Smokler

Hi Jill! Thanks for doing this interview for us! I’m so excited to welcome you to my blog. My friends and I recently had a girls’ weekend, which involved a 6-hour car ride. It was the perfect length of time to devour your first book, Confessions of a Scary Mommy, together on audiobook, which provided so many laughs for us (all Scary Mommies ourselves) as we made our way down the road. Of course, then I found out you have two other books as well: Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) and Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. I can’t wait to dig into those as well when I need another laugh!

IMG_9788To start out, I always like to ask for the 2-minute intro (the standard stuff) and then a little something that not many know about you (your favorite song to jam out to, your go-to food when you are sick, or your least favorite smell in the world…).

I started Scary Mommy simply as a blog in 2008. A few months in, I realized that this little mommy blog might actually be something that could become profitable and keep me from returning to an office job – pretty much my idea of hell. So, I worked my ass off on the site and it grew and grew. First was the Confessional, then the message boards, then guest authors and the books and ultimately, the sale of the site. I still work as president and EIC of Scary Mommy, which pretty much means making sure the site feels to readers the way it always has. It’s definitely different working with (and answering to!) people, but it’s also amazing to have resources I never had on my own. And going to the Scary Mommy NYC office every other week is pretty freaking cool.

My go-to jam is Man in the Mirror. Or pretty much anything from the 80’s.

You are all the places. Your own blog, of course (which sold last year and is now sourced from many writers and produces tons of content every day), Today Show, CafeMom, HuffPost, and interviews galore. Of course we have to assume that you are taking speed to get all this done and still BE a Scary Mommy at home, right? Any tips for those of us that feel like we can’t even keep the children fed and the house from tornado-level status without losing our minds? Asking for a friend…

Well, I’m not really at all those places at once. 🙂 I haven’t written for other sites in a while, or done any interviews lately for that matter! But at the times when work keeps me really busy, my home life totally falls apart. For years, I have been trying to figure out the great secret of balance and all I’ve learned is that there’s really no such thing. Something always seems to suffer – you simply can’t do everything well at the same time. So, I pretty much strive for “good enough.” Kept the kids fed and clothed? Good enough. Didn’t break the site or horribly fuck something up? Good enough. Good enough is success.

One of my favorite things that I found while researching you for this interview are all these different numbered lists of 25 Things Kids Never Say, Murphy’s Laws of Family Vacations, and others. They remind me of the classic, David Letterman-esque, top ten lists. I realize that parenting itself is a landfill of content, but how in the world do you continue to find fresh, engaging content week after week and year after year?

When I was writing every day, the kids were little and it seemed they would just always give me new content! When my youngest was around five, I vividly remember thinking I really ought to have another baby for blog fodder alone. Fortunately, I came to my senses, but not having a little kid really did have an impact on my writing – older kids aren’t nearly as entertaining, and their stories are not mine to tell. But I do love me a top ten list – those are definitely the easiest thing for me to write!

In this interview on SheKnows, I loved reading about your ideal family vacation: 7 days in Tahiti, reliving your honeymoon, with your kids (and nannies), and just getting beamed there to avoid the travel. Sounds like heaven to me too! That was 5 years ago now. I assume you’ve vacationed since then? How has publishing books and blogging affected your ability to travel? Are you a traveler at heart? Do your kids enjoy traveling? Has blogging/writing provided a push in the income department to make more exciting trips possible?

We have always been a traveling family! When the kids were little, we mostly drove to visit family and friends, but these days we do take bigger trips. They are pretty good on planes, and everyone is so busy these days so I really appreciate the alone time for the five of us. I’m very thankful that not only has blogging enabled us to take vacations, but also that I can work anytime, from anywhere. Kinda makes a life in Tahiti sound pretty doable… almost.

I loved reading about your Thanksgiving project a few years ago, but since the ScaryMommy blog has changed so much since then, I couldn’t figure out if it continued in 2015 (post-sale). It seems to me like even five years ago it was an insanely huge project to organize, but you helped so many people! Have you been able to continue with that? Or has the company that purchased your blog assured that they will continue that tradition? What a blessing to so many!

The Thanksgiving Project was amazing for the first few years it existed. We were able to help so many struggling moms and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Unfortunately, the bigger the site got, the more out of control the project became. People would share the application on Reddit and Facebook as a “free turkey dinner!” Applicants had no idea what Scary Mommy was and we couldn’t find a way to serve only the Scary Mommy community, which was the goal. So, when the site was purchased we made the decision to close the project and partner with other non-profits who have better systems in place instead. But it does kind of break my heart that we couldn’t find a way to make it work.

Finally, you asked me to keep Screen-Shot-2016-01-04-at-8.54.38-PM-600x277this kind of short, since you’re crazy-making-busy,
which I get! So, I guess what I want to end with is this: we laughed and laughed at your book in the car, but then wondered what we would think if we found “our mom’s book” that was written like yours, and what you think about your kiddos reading your book someday. I joked, but I’m guessing it’s true, that it would be better for them to wait to read it until they have kids of their own! Do you have any hopes or plans for that day when it comes?

I was always very aware, where ever I was writing, that the kids might someday read my words. Fortunately, they all have great senses of humor and an appreciation for sarcasm, so I hope they find the books comforting and entertaining. I always kind of thought of the blog and books as a modern day baby book for them – it’s certainly more interesting than the book of weight and first foods that I have from my mom… at least I hope so! But for now, the books are off limits – they need a little more perspective to appreciate them!!

Thank you, Jill, so much! I continue to be amazed by the people who just AGREE, for no apparent reason, to be part of this blog and be subjected to an interview by me. It is so flattering and humbling. You are a delight. To check out all of Jill’s books, you can follow the links at the top of this post, or pop over, here, to her author page.


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