Q&A session with Zibby Owens – Writer, Podcaster, Speaker and Mother

Photo courtesy: Lizzie Friedman

 Zibby Owens is the creator and the host of the podcast “Moms don’t have time to read books”.

She also writes interesting articles for various magazines. She is a graduate of both Yale University and Harvard Business School and has a background in Branding & Marketing. She currently lives with her husband Kyle Owens and her four kids in Manhattan.

Do you listen to podcasts? I love listening to them whenever I am not reading. I was introduced to “Moms don’t have time to read books” by Booksparks. Everytime I decide to read a book or finish a book, I have this burning desire to know what the author has to say about the book. I am happy to find this podcast which quenches this thirst of mine. I like the warm and light- hearted manner of Zibby Owens who asks thought- provoking questions to the authors. With each episode ranging from 20-30 minutes, this podcast is something close to my heart providing me with insights about books and authors.

I am happy to feature Zibby Owens on my blog. She is definitely my inspiration. Go ahead and read what she has to say about her career and life.

How did you come up with the idea of starting a podcast? And what is the story behind the quirky name “Moms don’t have time to read books”?

It was actually a friend, a young adult fiction writer, Sarah Mlynowski, who was helping me find a book agent and sort out my next career moves, who called me out of the blue and said, “I figured it out: you should do a podcast.” Truthfully, I’d never listened to a podcast before. (Can I even admit that?!) I’d been writing a lot of essays about parenting. So many that my husband, Kyle, said, “You should write a book about parenting.” And I responded, dismissively, “Moms don’t have time to read books!” At first, I wanted to write a parenting book with that title but people in the publishing world didn’t find that funny! So I decided to use that as the name for my podcast and interview authors, which has been a dream come true!

Can you tell me a bit about yourself as a writer? When did you discover that there is a writer inside you?

I’ve been writing since the third grade, ever since I learned cursive. I’ve kept a diary forever. When I was in fourth grade, my grandfather, who ran a miniature book printing press, published two of my short stories which were the coolest thing ever. I published my first essay in Seventeen magazine when I was 16 years old. I’ve just always loved to write. It’s how I sort out my thoughts. I write better than I talk or think or really anything else. The words have always just spouted out of me on paper.

How do you juggle between being a mom, podcaster and writer? What is your motivation?

Oh boy. I’m just always going. Always doing. I probably spend too much time quickly doing things on my phone in between other things. I schedule all my podcast interviews based on the kids’ schedules and try to do most of them while the kids are at school. I write articles when something happens that I just need to write about. I usually write at night or while waiting for one of the kids at a doctor’s appointment. It isn’t something I schedule into my day. I’m also really quick. I just get stuff done all the time. It’s like that saying: “If you need something done, give it to a busy person.” My motivation?! I actually really want to help other moms. I want to help them get lost in amazing stories. I want them to laugh at themselves the way I do in my most ridiculous parenting moments. I want moms to know that they’re not alone, that we’re all really in it together. I mean that!

Do you love reading as much as writing? What are your favorite genres? Do you have any all-time favorites?

Yes!! I absolutely love reading. It’s my greatest indulgence. Some parenting advice books say that moms need more self-care like they should take a bath or do yoga. I’m not going to take a friggin’ bath!! But I’ll definitely get under the cool sheets and crack open a new book. It’s the greatest feeling. That potential. My favorite genre is memoir, then fiction. Some of my all-time favorite books: Dani Shapiro, SLOW MOTION (and her latest book, INHERITANCE); Caroline Knapp: DRINKING: A LOVE STORY; anything by Nora Ephron; LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave; anything by Anna Quindlen; OPEN by Andre Agassi; A MILLION LITTLE PIECES by James Frey; anything by Ruth Reichl; DISNEYWAR by James Stewart; THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini. A million others I can’t remember.

I see that you have written a variety of articles for various magazines. What do you enjoy writing about the most? Do you have a special genre that you would like to explore more?

I enjoy writing about whatever is going on in my life. When I was obsessed with fitness, I wrote for SHAPE, SELF and other health and fitness magazines. When I got married, I wrote for MODERN BRIDE, ELEGANT BRIDE, and other bridal magazines. Now that I’m a mom, I’ve written about parenting for a zillion websites. I’ve started writing more about aging. I’d like to try more fiction, perhaps some book reviews. Maybe even a play. Who knows?!

How is “adulting” suiting you? Do you have any pet peeves?

I love it. Honestly, I’ve never been happier than right now. I know it’s crazy. Four kids. All that I’m doing. But I’m truly in love with my husband (my second husband), I passionately love the podcast/writing I’m doing and nothing makes me happier than being with the kids. You know, when they don’t drive me crazy. Because I’m divorced, I really appreciate the time I get to spend with the kids because those days are long and quiet without them. But I get to recharge, read and get ready for whatever they throw my way. Any pet peeves in general?! Incompetence! And really slow talking.

If you get a chance to talk to your younger self what would you talk about?

I would tell her that her stomach will never look that good again and to enjoy it!! I would tell her to enjoy the luxury of feeling like there’s all the time in the world. Now, I feel like I’m fighting against the clock of life to get everything done that I want to do. And I’d tell myself to spend time with the people I love. I’ve lost a lot of people close to me and just wish I’d spent more time with them. Also not to worry so much about what people think. It’s so not worth it.

Listeners think that you are a cool person. Do your kids think that you are a cool mom? Do you have any unique parenting techniques?

Really?! Did you just make that up to be nice?! Even if you did, thank you! That made me feel good. My daughter is standing next to me and says, “Um… sometimes cool.” Not exactly a rousing endorsement. I think the kids appreciate when I’m lighthearted and funny, that I’m doing interesting things and that I let them buy lots of books. Unique techniques? When the little guys tantrum, I distract them by making animals out of tin foil. They’re terrible-looking but then the kids laugh and we’re onto the next! Also every so often I have a random “prize night” if everyone in the house sleeps through the night. I do this when I can’t function on so little sleep anymore. It totally works. One mashable at the local toy store has never been so valuable.

What are your future projects, both as a writer and a podcaster? Would you like to talk about the book you are currently working on?

Well, I finished writing a memoir called 40 LOVE but for various personal/legal reasons, I’m not going to submit it for publication. However, I still might turn parts of the story into a novel. It’s a good story. I definitely want to write a book. Ideally a collection of essays.

Do you have anything to say to the young and aspiring writers/podcasters, anything you wish you had known earlier?

To the aspiring podcasters: the hardest part is getting your content out to the right people. (If you have any tips, let me know!) Just try it. See what happens.

To the aspiring writers: don’t take rejection too personally. One writing teacher I had, Susan Shapiro, said to expect 10 rejections per article submitted and if you get something published with fewer than 10, it’s a miracle. It’s all about setting expectations. Just keep writing what you like. I’ve only published a small slice of the things I’ve written. Sometimes I feel like that’s a waste, but other times I know that’s just part of the process. Also, try to get feedback. I always ask my husband or my mom or even my kids what they think before I put anything out there in the world. Plus, I like to read things out loud before submitting anywhere. I always catch something that sounds wrong that way. Also, they should know that writing probably isn’t going to be predictable or even lucrative, but sharing your stories and helping others can pay you back in other priceless ways. One comment on Facebook or Instagram from someone who tells me that my article or podcast has helped them in some small way is absolutely out-of-this-world. That’s what keeps me going on the toughest days.

P.S: Loved your answers especially the seventh one.

Just Bragging:)

Zibby Owens hosts awesome giveaways from time to time on her Instagram page. I was lucky enough to win these books/swag recently. I am so excited to read both “Joyful” by Sarah McColl and “Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro.

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