This week I have not one, not two but three wonderful authors in the Thursday Throng author interview. Norine, Jessica and Kate all collaborated to produce The Big Book of Parenting Tweets; a wonderful collection of the weirdest, strangest and funniest comments parents make about their situation and children on Twitter.
The Big Book of Parenting Tweets Interview
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: My family was stunned when I told them I was pregnant. No one, not my mom, my dad, my sister, nobody expected that I would have a child. I’d always been all about my writing career. For decades, it was my singular focus. It wasn’t till my biological clock was ticking down the last few minutes when I finally decided to have a baby. That’s why I’m such a late-in-life mom — six weeks shy of 40 when my son was born. It took me that long to figure out that I really did want to be a mother. Good thing I liked it or there’d be no Science of Parenthood.
Jessica: When I was little, while waiting for the bus at the end of my driveway on our very busy road I used to “tap dance” around my lunchbox. I was convinced I was going to be discovered and immediately shipped off to Hollywood to be the next Shirley Temple. People still reminisce to my mother about seeing my act 35+ year later.
Kate Hall: I’m not really funny in person. I write humor and jokes, but I’m so reserved and so concerned about saying something offensive (because I don’t always know “my audience” well enough) that I guard my words when talking to people. Unless I know someone really, really well I don’t come across as funny. Writing frees me to be myself. I also write my posts and jokes often thinking of my sister as my audience. I can be funny around her.
How did you choose a title for your book?
Jessica: The Big Book of Parenting Tweets was the first idea that came to mind. I didn’t want to be clever with the title. I wanted it to be extremely clear what the book was about.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: I’d have to say weight gain. Writing is a very frustrating and sedentary business. And since I work at home, I also spend a lot of time staring into the fridge as if (as I heard another writer once say on NPR) it “contained all the answers.” I’m not sure about “answers,” but my fridge definitely contains cheesecake. Hence the weight gain.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Actually no. I’ve been writing stories since I was 6. I’m not really cut out to do much else. I’ve been all over the map in terms of the kind of writing I do: I’ve written theatre/dance/art criticism for newspapers, alternative weeklies and art magazines; celebrity profiles; sports writing for the equestrian press; health/parenting/relationship “service” writing for women’s magazines and websites; and now I write a humor blog for parents called Science of Parenthood. The writing has changed through the decades, but the one constant is my identity as a writer.
Have you ever written naked?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Not entirely … but close. Before my husband and I were married, we lived on opposite sides of the country; him in Las Vegas; me in New York City. I’d flown out for the weekend one summer, and as you’d expect in Vegas in July, it was brutally hot. I’d gotten up early to work on a magazine article and set up my laptop in the living room so I wouldn’t wake Stewart. I’d thought he and I were alone in the house, so I’d just thrown on a pair of PJ bottoms in an effort to stay cool. His housemate and I were both very surprised when he came sauntering into the living room that morning … and found me writing topless on his couch. That experience pretty much cured me of writing without clothes on.
Kate Hall: No, but I have written tweets in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Jessica: TIME. The idea popped into my head toward the end of October, and I knew if we were going to do it it needed to be out by Thanksgiving. Luckily it was an easy ask for the contributors: send us 20-plus tweets you have already written, we didn’t need anything new.
Kate Hall: What Jessica said, “TIME.” Trying to get it out before Thanksgiving was a challenge. It was only made possible because of today’s technology. I had to set other things aside to focus on the book. But it was worth it — especially since it was such a small period of time.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: A few …
- Make the time to write and guard it selfishly. There will always be something else that has to be done. But if you don’t carve out the time and hold those moments for yourself, you’ll never write.
- Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. The chair of the department I majored in back in college told me I’d better get married because I’d never make it as a writer. The last 25 years proved him wrong as that’s exactly how I’ve made my living. That said, if you’ve been told your writing needs work, work at it. Take classes, join writing groups, enlist an editor. I think of writing as a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it gets.
- Master grammar and punctuation. There’s a lot of sloppy writing on the web. Readers will be uninterested in what you have to say if they are mentally correcting your grammar, spelling and punctuation as they read.
- Revise. Revise. Revise. Most “writing” is rewriting.
- Keep a pad/pen by your bedside, in your car, in your bag or use the notepad app on your phone. Otherwise, that perfect thought or sentence or story idea … you’ll never remember it later. Always write it down immediately. Even if it’s 3AM and you need to get out of bed to do it.
What is the best excuse you have ever come up with for missing a deadline?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: I’ve often written for women’s magazines, staffed by women with children of their own, so my son provides the perfect cover. Every mom’s experienced the sudden illness that comes out of nowhere. One minute the kid’s fine; the next he’s got a 102F fever. Though I always remember the line from one of Erica Jong’s books, that goes something along the lines of “lying about your kid being sick will inevitably cause your kid to become sick,” I’ve often pulled a “fever” out of thin air to buy a few days on a deadline. Of course, now that I’ve shared this trick, no one will ever believe me if I say my kid is sick. So I guess I better start meeting those deadlines.
Are you jealous of other writers?
Kate Hall: I’ve struggled with this ever since I started blogging. Watching others succeed when you put in so much time and effort is hard. Once I found my unique place in the blogging world and started reaching some of my goals my jealousy wasn’t as strong. Two other things have helped: 1) Finding a specific group of peers within my niche whom I could support and would support me, and 2) Focusing on entertaining the people who already read my work and follow me.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Kate Hall: Everything around me gives me inspiration. Right now, I’m home all day with my kids, so that’s what I write about. When I went to China to adopt my children, that’s what I wrote about. When I go on vacation, that’s what I write about. When I go to the roller rink, that’s what I write about. I’m always looking for the funny side of a situation. The challenge is when nothing new or unusual happens, I can run out of new material. Then I have to dig up old stories and experiences to share.
Have you had to learn new skills and tricks or attempted impossible feats in order to get a book finished?
Jessica: The Big Book of Parenting Tweets was almost an impossible feat in itself. It is amazing everything lined up rapidly enough for us to pull it off on our four-week schedule. I learned MANY new things in the process, from technical tricks like using Master Pages in Adobe inDesign to figuring out how to create and optimize an image-heavy ebook in an afternoon five days before the book went on sale (hint: they are basically html pages. As a web designer for the past 15 years that little nugget saved me LOADS of time).
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
Kate Hall: Coffee with non-dairy creamer, preferably Peppermint Mocha creamer, and water. I go back and forth between the two in the morning. By 2pm, totally water.
Are there any habits you wish you didn’t have?
Kate Hall: Procrastinating. I hate that I put off the hard stuff. Life would be so much less stressful if I just did the hard stuff when it came up rather than putting it off. It’s probably the biggest stress producer in my life. I also need to not worry what others think about me. That causes me stress too. It also causes me to make commitments to do things that I eventually procrastinate on doing.
If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?
Jessica: If it were perfect, I wouldn’t have to hide the body. No one would suspect it was murder.
Where can I find out more about The Big Book of Parenting Tweets
You can find The Big Book of Parenting Tweets in Kindle and Paperback formats here:
and you can find out more about the whole trio on Facebook at facebook.com/scienceofparenthood and facebook.com/bigbookoftweets; and on Twitter at twitter.com/bigbookoftweets and twitter.com/halloftweets
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/.