Alumna pens 'mom-oir' about life in the suburbs

Not that long ago Penn State alumna Tracy Beckerman managed the advertising and promotion department for WCBS-TV in New York City -- a big-time job in the Big Apple.

She was also creating award-winning TV and radio scripts for A-list clients and earning a Writer’s Guild of America award, an International Film and Television award, and a New York Emmy.

Her story changed significantly when her first son was born. What followed was a career switch, a move from New York to New Jersey, a syndicated column, some stand-up comedy and two books -- the latest of which becomes available nationally April 2.

With “Lost in Suburbia A Momoir: How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself and Got My Cool Back in the News Jersey Suburbs” (2013, Perigree Books), Beckerman chronicles her transformation from a cool city dweller to an un-hip, stay-at-home mom. Her determination and talent never waned, though, and with an ability to find humor everywhere her syndicated column grew to more than 400 newspapers and 250 websites with a reach of nearly 10 million readers in 25 states.

Those numbers drew a response from the book agent Beckerman sought out in person -- during another author’s event -- to pitch “Lost in Suburbia.”

“The way you are supposed to get an agent is to send a query letter, but I’m not big on doing things the usual way. So, I went to someone else’s book reading and pitched my book to her agent,” Beckerman said. “She was interested enough to have me send a proposal, and then when she heard about my newspaper circulation, she signed me.”

Beckerman, who earned her communications degree from the University in 1986, said the book-writing process was similar to having a child. After nine months of work (four writing and five more fine tuning), the book was ready -- and she said the process was slightly less painful than giving birth.

“I loved being able to reflect back on a time in my life that was incredibly challenging, and have the perspective of time to see how I had grown from the experience of becoming a mom,” Beckerman said. All authors dream of writing a best-seller, but Beckerman would be just as pleased if other moms simply make a connection.

“I would love it if other moms read it, find something in there that makes them laugh and realize they are not alone in their struggles to get their cool back,” Beckerman said.

Now with two children and comfortable with her family in New Jersey, Beckerman has plenty of advice for moms.

For example, she’s learned valuable lessons about the proper attire to wear when feeding a baby: “Nothing too nice. They spit up a lot.” And she knows the best approach to getting a good night’s sleep, especially when the baby’s crying: “The person who can fake sleep the best, wins.”

While Beckerman avoids driving a minivan at all costs, she does remain surprised by some things in the suburbs -- especially hair scrunchies. She never wore them, even when she was younger, but she did not know they were still in widespread use.

“I thought those had gone out of style in the 1980s,” Beckerman said. “Apparently not. They just relocated.”

Last Updated May 14, 2013