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K.J. Dell’Antonia Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Choosing, Reading and Loving Books Together (With: Susan Straub) (2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and LovingEvery Minute (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Chicken Sisters (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

KJ Dell’ Antonia is a self help, chic lit and fiction author. She is best known as the author of “Why I Didn’t Answer Your Email,” the viral “New York Times” essay and her debut novel “The Chicken Sisters.” She is also a former editor of “Motherlode,” a blog at the “Times.” Her first novel has been described as a humorous and timely take on the many themes she used to tackle when she was a journalist. Some of these themes include the need to value the people we interact with in person rather than the ones in laptops and cell phones, figuring out what makes one happy and the how critical it is to find joy in families. The novel tells hilarious stories about two small town sisters one of whom stayed and another that left who now try to resolve their feud over who had it better.

Like many nonfiction authors, KJ Dell’ Antonia always had a desire to write fiction. She had written fiction but had never tried to have her manuscripts published as it seemed hard and she was scared of the process. She was a lover of fiction works and could quote tons of them in her head but she did not know if she could become an author herself. As a magazine writer, essays came easy and turning her parenting column into a novel was a breeze. She found it easy to come up with topics and write intelligent things about it. This was very different with fiction as she had to come up with characters and a story which she found super daunting. After turning in her nonfiction work “How to Be A Happier Parent,” to the publishers, she knew she would not hear from the publishers in a while and thought why not try her hand at fiction. Since she had rhythm and an idea for a story, she thought she just had to learn how to write fiction. KJ was certain that if she found a formula she would be fine. She bought a ton of instructional manuals such as “2000 to 10000: How to Write Faster,” “The 90 Day Novel” and anything she believed could offer some formula for writing fiction. She read these books several times and would pull out one she thought most relevant whenever she got stuck.

KJ Dell ‘Antonia had been thinking of the two chicken restaurants in her novel for years since they are real restaurants back in her hometown. She could not help but wonder what would happen if they went head to head targeting each other’s customers. Most people she knew went to either but never both of them as everyone was either a Chicken Mary’s or Chicken Annie’s customer. She had the idea and a rough outline sitting on her desk for more than a decade but she never had the story to flesh it out. She also needed to people her story with interesting characters and figure out how the restaurants fit into the whole thing. Antonia had grown up in the suburbs but knew about the depth of relationships and extended family life common in small towns such as the one she set her story in as her parents were from one. As a child, she had often spent holidays in the small town where her parents grew up and she had always craved it whenever they left to go back to the suburbs. It was from her interactions with her cousins that she developed her characters with one who left finding it stifling while the other who stayed finding comfort in it. Since she was still blogging for MotherLode and her work called for her to submit a ton of essays every month, it took her about two years to complete her manuscript.

Antonia had always had an agent for her nonfiction novels but thought she could not use her given that she did not do fiction. She decided to just send it to her as she thought maybe she would make an exception or introduce her to someone that could work with her. She believed she had only one shot to get the interest of an agent and she had to present something that was good enough. KJ had written an unwieldy and long manuscript with some overdrawn characters and a weak storyline for the lead character. Things took a turn for the better when she interviewed Jennie Nash, a freelance editor and book coach on the “AmWriting” podcast that she hosts alongside Sarina Bowen and Jessica Lahey. She was taken by the way she talked about the mistakes beginner writers make and what they can do to improve. Looking at her manuscript, Antonia thought it would do with an expert analysis and so she hired Nash to edit and point out mistakes. She taught her how to reduce the fluff and tell a good story with excellent structure. Once they were done editing, she took it to Laurie Abkemeir her nonfiction agent who introduced her to her current agent Caryn Karmatz Rudy who sold the novel.

“The Chicken Sisters” by KJ Dell’Antonia is set in Merinac, Kansas. Chicken Frannie’s and Chicken Mimi’s are two restaurants that have spent the past 100 years trying to become the best fried chicken joints in the state. The feud between their respective founding families the Pogociellos and the Moores has been ongoing for year and is not about to end soon. But no one has been so impacted by the rivalry than Amanda Moore. She is a middle aged widow that had spent most of her life working for her mother at Mimi’s before she fell in love and got married to Frank Pogociello and went to work for the enemy at Frannie’s. She had been caught in the middle far too often and now wants to end it all and sends a message to a reality TV restaurant competition Food Wars asking them to consider the feuding restaurants. But her action launches the feud and the families into open war. Meanwhile, Amanda’s sister Mae Moore who is in Brooklyn has her career implode and is forced to go back home to Kansas, the last place she wants to go. But since she is an organizational guru, she thinks it is a chance to get back in the spotlight as the competition will be broadcast on TV. Mae believes she has the skills to make her family’s fading restaurant look like a world beater even if she will have to go against Frannie’s and Amanda. To help along the rivalry is a greedy producer who soon turns the competition into a game of chicken. When the family secrets are made public, the sisters are forced to choose between their heritage and their rivalry.

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