Episode 13: KJ Dell’Antonia
This week, our guest is KJ Dell’Antonia, the author of the viral New York Times essay Why I Didn’t Answer Your Email, the former editor of the Times’ Motherlode blog, and the author of the book How to Be a Happier Parent. Her debut novel, The Chicken Sisters, is a timely, humorous exploration of the same themes she focuses on in her journalism: the importance of finding joy in our families, the challenge of figuring out what makes us happy and the need to value the people in front of us more than the ones in our phones and laptops, every single time. We learned a lot from KJ, but our biggest takeaway was that even pros can benefit from coaching as KJ partnered with a book coach to pivot from non-fiction to fiction writing with incredible success. You can also watch a video version of the podcast on our YouTube channel.
Her earlier book, How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a family, having a life, and loving (almost) every minute of it, is a practical, thoroughly researched guide to bringing more joy into our everyday lives, not by doing more (please, no) but by doing things differently.
KJ’s career has taken her from law school to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, from dot-com business development executive to journalist. And now, she’s a novelist. We got to talk with KJ about her path, including what worked and what didn’t.
Writers in our audience will love hearing KJ discuss the process of writing a novel. Missy felt encouraged when KJ talked about how many rewrites are involved in finishing one novel. Our conversation also included what it was like to find out that The Chicken Sisters was a Reese’s Book Club pick, and how it feels to tackle novel number two after such success.
One of the themes that came out of this interview was investing in ourselves, whether that’s finding a mentor, paying a coach, or just giving ourselves the time and space to work. As KJ explains, sometimes a coach is the difference between dreaming of something and actually getting it done. Even professionals can benefit from expert coaching.
Topics, People, Etc. That Come Up in This Episode
- Jenny Nash, Book Coach
- The Author Accelerator program
- Chicken restaurants in Kansas – Chicken Annie’s, Chicken Mary’s
- Ernest Hemingway
- Mom 2.0 Summit
- Mom Writes Podcast with Abby & Melanie
- The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix
- Bangs: to cut them or not to cut them (spoiler: she cut them, and they’re stunning!)
- The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, a podcast with Bianca Marais
- Good One podcast from Vulture, with Jesse David Fox
- What Fresh Hell podcast, and the episode When Can We Start Saying Yes?, about moving forward, post-Covid.
- (Missy is also learning that she is not a great driving teacher. There is a lot of gasping and pushing an imaginary brake right through the floorboard.)
Connect with KJ:
- On Instagram
- KJ’s website
- Buy the book!
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Our delightfully happy intro and outro theme music, “We Will Get Through This” is performed by Young Presidents, and used under license from Shutterstock.