Stacey Ballis headshotThe legend begins.

I was born in Chicago with a full head of hair and a naturally charming disposition. My love of words was apparent early on, by the age of 9 months it was impossible to shut me up. Reading was an early passion, happening spontaneously before my third birthday, making me both a minor prodigy and a little freakish. As a child I was a natural storyteller. My parents referred to this skill as “lying”. Grammar school was where I majored in inventing creative excuses for not doing my homework. I reported to high school in 1984 with braces, glasses, and an unfortunate haircut. I was not enamored of paying attention on the days I deigned to attend classes, however, I managed to graduate and get accepted to Brandeis University.

Yep, a mud hut.

At Brandeis I double-majored in English Literature and American Studies, and did a minor in Creative Writing. Mostly I hung out in the Student Events office. In the summer of 1990, I went to Kenya for three months. I lived with a family, taught at the local secondary school, did small community service projects. I was in a tiny village without electricity or running water. Sappy as it sounds, I found myself there. What the hell I had been doing there all the time, I have no idea, it is the last place you would think of to look for me, and yet, there I was. I was very glad to finally meet myself. When I returned, I announced a shift in plans. I was going to become a high school English teacher.

Educating Stacey

Shortly after my return from Kenya, I began a relationship with my future ex-husband. Ten days after graduating from Brandeis, I had begun my Masters Degree at DePaul University. About a month later I got engaged. I loved teaching. I tolerated graduate school. I planned a wedding. I got married in August of 1994. In August of 1996 I was informed that due to a drop in student enrollment, I was out of a job. A conversation with a friend led me to Court Theatre, which was looking for a Director of Education. I got the job. I left Court in early 2000, and was hired by Goodman Theatre to be their Director of Education and Community Programs.

Ooops, I wrote a book!

I decided to get back into short fiction writing. I knew I wanted to write a story about a big girl who was comfortable in her skin, having a good life, having great sex, and not dieting or being morose about her body. I also knew I wanted to write a ‘chick-lit’ story that didn’t compromise the intelligence of the reader. A story about a big girl having a passionate affair seemed a good place to start. Lucky for me, the ‘short’ story wouldn’t stop coming for over 400 pages. Who knew?

Ooops, I got a book deal!

A friend told me about Red Dress Ink, and that they were taking unsolicited manuscripts. I sent them a synopsis and three chapters. A week later I got a call asking for the manuscript. Three weeks later they called with an offer. I called an author cousin for help, and she gave me the number of an agent she trusted. 32 days from start to finish, agent, book deal, WOW! After the publication of INAPPROPRIATE MEN and SLEEPING OVER, I wrote a proposal that went to auction, and I found myself at Berkley/Penguin. Yes. THAT Penguin.Aristotle, Edward Albee and me. I have achieved tiny little fishling in large pond status, and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Where I’m at now.

The foray into publishing has been a wonderful endeavor. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT was released in 2006 and THE SPINSTER SISTERS in 2007. I’ve also contributed chapters to two non-fiction anthologies, EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME, where my essay was highlighted by Entertainment Weekly magazine as a standout, and GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS: True Tales of Love, Lust, and Friendship Between Straight Women and Gay Men, where my essay was featured in the Gay City review. I was a regular contributor to the RACHAEL RAY SHOW on CBS, where I offered lifestyle and entertaining tips and had over 9 appearances during the first season. I resigned my position at Goodman in 2007 to pursue my writing and consultancy work full time. GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT was released by Berkely/Penguin in 2010, my first foray into the wonderful world of foodie fiction, complete with recipes in the back of the book!

And lucky for me, I did finally meet my Charming Suitor, Bill, and married him in May of 2011. Our romance inspired my book Off The Menu. I continue to write culinary fiction, following Off the Menu with Out to Lunch, Recipe for Disaster, Wedding Girl and How to Change a Life. These books offer stories of women in Chicago navigating love and life, deliciously. And all have wonderful recipes included!

Les Dames d'EscoffierFinally, I have been blessed to have been inducted into the Chicago chapter of a wonderful organization, Les Dames D’Escoffier, an international organization for women in the food, wine and hospitality industries devoted to global connections within the industries, and raising money for scholarships and mentorship for other women looking to enter into careers in these fields. For more info on LDE, you can check them out at

I do want to hear what you think, so feel free to send me an e-mail with your comments or questions, I promise to get back to you eventually, just be patient with me.

Thanks for reading!

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