Hey Math is Everywhere readers,
Today’s post is extra special because not only is there STEM (my favorite), but the person we get to chat with today is one of the most inspiring, kindhearted people I have ever had the pleasure to chat with: Pat Zietlow Miller! She’s here today to talk with us about her newest book that just came out THIS WEEK (April 21st to be exact) My Brother the Duck.
Kaitlyn: Thanks so much for joining us today, Pat! First off, can you share what inspired this hilarious, adorable, and scientifically-driven book My Brother the Duck?
Pat: I’ve always been fascinated by how kids can hear something adults say as a joke and take it seriously. I still remember how one of my girls went to a summer camp and the teacher said if she kept asking questions he’d have to charge her more. She was quite concerned that this was true! Luckily, she asked me. I clarified things, and the next day she was back to her inquisitive ways. So this book’s inciting incident is a little girl hearing her parents say something as a joke that she takes as a fact. And that’s the start of a comedy of errors.
Kaitlyn: I remember those days of not getting adult jokes, sounds like you did a great job with your daughter. I love that you describe the story as a comedy of errors, can you share your process for this book?
Pat: This book took a while. It was one of the first books I wrote, and it was the third book I sold. But, it took a while to become an actual book — about six years — so it’s the 11th book of mine to be released. Initially, the main character was a detective in training who wants to crack a case. Through revisions, the main character became a fledgling scientist who wants to test a hypothesis. Daniel Wiseman’s vibrant art brings the whole thing to life. I was very involved in the writing and revising, of course, but not the art. I really try to stay out of the illustrator’s way on my books so he or she can exercise their own creative vision. It makes the final book better.
Kaitlyn: Wow! Thank you for sharing all that. I’m so glad it’s out now and congrats on your 11th book! You’re such a prolific writer, I’d love to know your writing style: are you a plotter, a panster, or a combination of the two?
Pat: I’m a pantser. I usually have a bit of an idea when I start. Maybe it’s a few words or a title. Then, I sit down and write and figure out the details. There’s quite a bit of revision along the way. Some of that comes straight from me as I return to what I’m working on after a few days away, and some comes from ideas I get from a few critique partners I have. It’s great when someone else looks at your work with fresh eyes, asks a few questions and gives you a flash of insight that changes everything.
Kaitlyn: Yes! It’s so nice to hear that such wonderful authors are creative pansters. Here is when I usually ask for advice for writers, but you have such wonderful advice on your website (check it out here, reader friends: https://www.patzietlowmiller.com/writing-advice), so instead, can you tell us the best advice others have given you?
Pat: I think the best advice I got came early on, before I had sold a book, from author Leslie Langtry. She was a friend of my aunt, and was nice enough to talk with me on the phone. She said something along the lines of:
- Be professional. Writing is a business relationship. Don’t be a flaky creative. Be someone editors want to work with again.
- Meet your deadlines. Deliver your work when you say you will.
- Put in the time to produce something good. Don’t rush to publication. You will regret it.
I remember thinking, “I can do that.” And, that’s what I’ve endeavored to do. It’s worked well so far.
I also have to credit my mom. There was one time, many years ago, when I was talking — OK, whining — about a work-related test I had to pass. My mom simply said, “You’ve done hard things before.” That really hit home with me. I thought, “I have done hard things.” So now, when I start feeling like something won’t happen, I remember what my mom said and dig back in to the work.
Kaitlyn: They both sound like amazing women with wonderful advice. Finally, if you could hang out with your favorite author, would you chat over tea or go fly a kite?
Pat: Oh, we’d chat over tea. I have Charlie Brown’s luck when it comes to kites. It would be dangerous for everyone involved. I’m not sure whom I’d want to have tea with if I could just pick one author. I have so many favorite authors I’ve never had the chance to chat with. Maybe Sharon Creech? Lynda Mullaly Hunt? Marla Frazee? Vashti Harrison? Peter Reynolds? Alison McGhee? Lucy Ruth Cummins?
Kaitlyn: Haha Charlie Brown’s luck with kites! What a visual! I would have a hard time choosing between them, too. Thank you so much for joining us today!
Pat: Thank you for having me!
Pat Zietlow Miller knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade English teacher read her paper about square-dancing skirts out loud in class and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.”
Pat started out as a newspaper reporter and wrote about everything from dartball and deer-hunting to diets and decoupage. Now, she writes insurance information by day and children’s books by night. She has 11 books currently available and nine more coming out in the next few years.
Pat’s book with Jen Hill, BE KIND, was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. She’s also won the Golden Kite Award for picture book text, a Charlotte Zolotow honor and an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer honor.
My Brother the Duck
A new sibling book with humor, heart, and a dash of the scientific process sure to delight young readers.
Is Stella’s new baby brother a duck?
All the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction, but Stella knows that scientists can’t just wing it. Further research is definitely required.
This sweet and silly book is just ducky for new siblings, fledgling scientists and anyone who loves a good laugh.
- Read-aloud books for children and siblings
- New baby gift for siblings
- Pat Zietlow Miller has published numerous children’s books, including the critically acclaimed Be Kind.
Picture-book-reading new siblings who enjoyed The New Small Person, Little Miss Big Sis, and Julius Baby of the World will love the sweet and silly humor of My Brother the Duck.
Get your copy today: https://www.chroniclebooks.com/products/my-brother-the-duck
Pat is giving away a copy of My Brother the Duck (US only please)
How to get in on the Giveaway:
- Comment on this blog post
- Retweet the tweet about this post
- Request that your library order a copy of My Brother the Duck and share in the comments that you did so
Each one of the above gets you another entry into the giveaway!
Thank you all for joining us today to learn about Pat’s newest book, her experiences, and writing.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
If you haven’t stopped by to read the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest entries, make sure to hop on over and check them out. The winners will be announced SOON: https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com/spring-fling-kidlit-contest