Patti McKenna – Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels is the instruction manual kids don’t come with. A humorous book about the realities of parenting, the book weaves parenting lessons through true, often embarrassing, hilarious, or touching, stories based on my life as an average mom raising four daughters. Taking parents from birth through the teen years, it relates to parents at any stage of parenting.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in Kankakee, IL, and still reside in our town, which is about an hour south of Chicago. I’m married and the mother of four beautiful daughters, who we’ve often referred to as The Entertainment Committee. Professionally, I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor who works at home, where it’s often quiet when the kids go to school and my husband goes to work (with the exception of our dog, Peyton, who knows how to make her presence known). As a wife and mom, I pick up more stuff than Bounty.

What inspired you to write this book?

Originally, I wasn’t writing a book, just a series of articles that revolved around a theme – funny, unbelievable things my kids have done or said. Then I realized that there were so many and that they all could fit around a ‘warning label’ theme, so I compiled them and thus, Caution was born.

How did you choose the title?

Truer words have never been spoken. Children should come with warning labels! Nobody can argue that point!

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

A first-time author, it’s difficult to succeed in the traditional publishing industry, and I had my share of rejections. Of those who bothered to reply, I was told by one that humor and parenting were not a good mix. That’s when I knew that my book had merit and decided to continue in my search for a publisher. Had that publisher not heard of Erma Bombeck? Comedy and parenting do mix! Time and patience were required, but Caution was finally accepted by Urban Edge Publishing in Atlanta, Georgia. Believe me, that was a great feeling!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I used to be an administrative assistant. I hit the glass ceiling and lost all interest when one of my bosses asked me to write her essay for university admission for her masters degree. Reluctantly, I did it, and she was accepted and then was promoted to be my direct supervisor. So, I figured if I (without a college education at all) could write well enough to get someone admitted to a masters degree program in education, then I could write well to makea living at it.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Turn on the Mr. Coffee, pour, drink, rinse and repeat.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Well, my book contains true stories about my children, so the question might be better stated, ‘Why did you name your children Samantha, Heather, Meridith, and Emily?’ Let’s just say that it’s not always easy for two adults to find names they both like.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned that writing is easy… marketing and promotion are a crap shoot – you never know what it’s going to take to capture the interest of your audience.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have made my book even longer. I also would have marketed it for a long time before it hit the printing press.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I mentioned Erma Bombeck earlier, and I still love the way she wrote about life. I’m also fond of Nicholas Sparks, Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham. Give me a good love story or a sit on the edge of your seat drama/mystery, and I’m good.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am so glad you asked. I am, indeed, working on my next book, which is entitled From a Lullaby to Goodbye. This book is a compilation of chapters from parents who have grieved the loss of a child, providing comfort and support for families who are currently grieving their own loss. We hope that every hospital in the nation will have the book in their care packages. It’s a long overdue book which takes on a tough subject–child loss is taboo table talk, as most of us who have experienced it now all too well. The stories are so amazing and the moms and dads who contributed to the book are so strong. It makes me proud to know them.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Write because you love it. Write about things you know and are interested in. Take risks, change your style, try something new.

On publishing, do your research and only seek the most reputable publishers. Oh, and if you’re going to write, learn how to write a query letter or book proposal that will knock their socks off. Those two things are the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Mothers to be, mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers…Although I’ve had several men tell me that they read, and enjoyed, Caution, as well!

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

They can go to Urban Edge Publishing’s website ( A synopsis, testimonials, and reviews are also on the book’s page. In addition, there are a couple sample chapters on my blog, Parenting, 1 Word at a Time, which can be found at


  1. says

    I have read some of Caution & can’t wait till my 2 books come any day now. What I read had me laughing so hard & cry…can’t wait to read it all! I have know Patti since she was a little girl, her mother & I were best friends; so proud of you Patti!

  2. Tracy Christensen says

    I have my own copy and a copy for each of my 3 children. I read the book straight through, couldn’t put it down. Love, love, love the funny side of parenting. Thanks Patti for your willingness to embarass and humiliate yourself for my entertainment.