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.

Except this Mountain Island Lake, N.C., mom has authored two books. The second, which hit bookstores recently, earned a sizable advance and is expected to be Random House’s biggest parenting book of 2009.

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,” says 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 than to wonder, ‘What if.'”‰”

“The Must-Have Mom 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 age 6.

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