Author Spotlights: Big Book of Parenting Tweets

Hello Everyone!

Kate Hall

Kate Hall

Today, I posted a review for "The Big Book of Parenting Tweets" by Jessica Ziegler, Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Kate Hall.  As part of the review process, I also had the opportunity to do a brief interview with the author that I wanted to share. 

MTG: Do you have a favorite tweet(s) that particularly resonated with you?  I know it’s often impossible to narrow it down to one, so just pick one (or a two) that stands out.

Jessica Ziegler: I love Simon C. Holland’s (@SimonCHolland) “Imagine you have kids … Wrong you don’t have time to imagine anymore.” For me that perfectly sums up how having children blows the doors of your life. Every assumption you have made is lined up, waiting to be proven wrong.

Kate Hall: Ack! There are so many. I think this tweet from Abe Yospe (@Cheeseboy22) says it all in terms of just how exhausting parenting can be: "There should be a theme park called Parentland where only parents can go. The rides would be couches where parents can just sit in peace."

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: One of my favorites comes from Bethany Thies of Bad Parenting Moments (@BPMBadassMama): “My son tripped over a box of Legos and landed on about 185 tiny pieces. I feel like this is 6 years of karma finally catching up with him.” We have a lot of Lego drama in my house, so this really resonated with me.  

Norine (left) and Jessica (right)

Norine (left) and Jessica (right)

MTG: What books are you reading now?

Jessica Ziegler: Neil Patrick Harris’s "Choose Your Own Autobiography". I love him, he’s so funny, charming  and ridiculously talented.

Kate Hall: I'm reading "Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today's Top Comedy Writers" by Mike Sacks. It's encouraging, down-to-earth, entertaining and practical. I really love this book. I'm also reading "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. I haven't had a ton of time to read since we started working on our book, so this one is on the back burner for now. I'm half way through.

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Jessica and I are working on another book based on our blog Science of Parenthood, which uses faux math and snarky science to “explain” baffling parenting situations. So I am reading through a stack of books like "Physics: Everyday Science at the Speed of Light" by Isaac Mephee and "50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need To Know" by Tony Crilly, looking for real math and science ideas I can twist around to apply to funny parenting situations. Not exactly page-turners, but very informative. By the time my kiddo gets to chemistry, I should have this stuff down!

MTG: I think I read somewhere that you three managed to pull together the book in a crazy amount of time.  What was that process like?

Kate Hall: It was a great process. We worked well together. We all have different strengths and skill sets that we were able to bring together to get this all done in a short amount of time. I'm still amazed that we did it.

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Brisk. And very focused. As Kate said, we each have different skill sets that dove-tailed nicely to produce a really fun book. Jessica knew how to create and publish a book through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform since she’s done it many times with her customizable children’s book company StoryTots (StoryTots.com). Plus, she’s got the mad illustrating skills that she used not only to create cartoons for the book, but to create the hilarious memes we’ve been using to promote the book. Kate understood Twitter and immediately knew who to ask to contribute hilarious tweets because she reads about 6,000 to 10,000 tweets a month for her own blog Hall of Tweets. My strength is editing and writing, so I gave the manuscript a final polish before we went to press.

MTG: How many kids do each of your respectively have?

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Jessica and I each have one child -- boys. Mine’s 8; her’s is 10.

Kate Hall: I have three children, 10, 9 and 5.

MTG: How did the writing/editing work with three of you? 

Kate Hall: Jessica and I did a lot of the legwork up front: I curated the tweets, Jessica did the illustrations and set up the book in three sections that reflect a typical parent’s day: morning, afternoon and evening. I created spreadsheets with all of the contributors’ tweets, and then we all blind voted on which ones we wanted in the book and then started editing. Norine and Jessica worked on the introductions to the book and the section intros. For the most part, we worked out of Google docs. Toward the end, I focused on communication with the tweet contributors while Jessica finished up the book and Norine went full-swing into marketing.

Jessica Ziegler: Norine will hate that I’m using a sports metaphor, but it felt like passing a ball to different players. Kate had the ball first, tweep wrangling and communication, then passed it to me for design/book building, then onto Norine on editing and promotion. We all had roles to play in each stage but there was definitely a leader for each part. It flowed amazingly smoothly.

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: And there you have it: book publishing is a sport. I finally feel like an athlete!

MTG: Did the three of you ever disagree on an aspect of the book?  Wished that you could have included more/less etc.

Kate Hall: There were a few tweets that we may have disagreed on keeping or rejecting, but there was nothing major. Those were resolved pretty easily. We had so much good material from our contributors that it wasn't necessary to fret over the inclusion of a few tweets. We had a clear goal in mind for the book that we all agreed on. I think that made it a smoother project.

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: We’d never done an anthology like this. To my knowledge, there is no other anthology comprised entirely of tweets from funny parents. So we had many discussions about how to best structure the book to present the tweets for maximum laughs. But we always came to agreement between the three of us. It’s amazing we didn’t have any big disagreements, when you think about it since we’d never worked together before. Jessica and I have been business partners for about two years now and we’ve been friends for about 10. But we didn’t know Kate that well when we started this project, and she didn’t know us. Yet, we worked seamlessly to produce this book. I’ll tell you, nothing cements a friendship faster than producing a fun book together!

Jessica: True. Foolishly or not, I tend to have a lot of faith in people and their abilities and will just run with something. Luckily Kate was the 100 percent perfect fit, was able to do it and turned out to be a natural for this role. Our only real constraints were time and money. We paid all of our contributors, so as much as we all would have liked to have 1,000 tweets in the book, that wasn’t financially possible. I think the balance of cartoon to text worked out really well.

MTG: Give us three “Good to Know” facts about yourselves.  Be creative: first job, likes/dislikes, hobbies, favorite way to unwind – whatever comes to mind. 

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel:

  1. I would rather eat chocolate than any other food -- and I’ll occasionally skip dinner so I can have extra dessert. (Shhh … don’t tell my kid.)
  2. I’m happiest when I’m working, coming up with funny things for our blog, Science of Parenthood.
  3. I unwind by watching period costume dramas. Gosford Park, Pride & Prejudice, The Age of Innocence and Downton Abbey are go-tos as is anything by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. I just binge-watched the BBC mini-series The Buccaneers from Edith Wharton’s not-quite-finished novel about four American heiresses who go to England to seek titled husbands in the 1870s.  

Kate Hall:

  1. I can juggle and blow bubbles off my tongue.
  2. My way to unwind is to watch Netflix every night before I go to bed.
  3. Right now, I'm binge-watching Ugly Betty.

Jessica Ziegler:

  1. I was born in San Francisco and as a baby lived in an apartment with a dirt floor near Haight Street.
  2. I strongly dislike sweet potatoes
  3. I unwind via public twerking.

MTG: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Kate Hall: The next tweet book!

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: That’s right. As Kate said, we are planning another book of parenting tweets for the spring. And Jessica and I are deep into our first book based on our blog, called Science of Parenthood, an illustrated look at parenting through the four major sciences: biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. It’s due out from She Writes Press in November 2015. Readers can keep track of our progress and projects: