Monday, December 5, 2011

Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves by, Robin O'Bryant

I'm pleased to be able to plug a brilliant writer and a hilarious book. Robin O'Bryant is funny, talented, and supportive of other writers. I'm honored to call her a friend and excited to introduce you to her and her work.

Here she is (isn't she adorable?) and above is the cover of her book (isn't it cute?). The holidays are upon us, so why not treat yourself or someone you love with a copy? CLICK HERE TO ORDER. I promise, you won't be sorry.

BY THE WAY: Robin, being the generous soul that she is, has a signed copy of her book to give away to someone who tweets on Twitter about this post and/or shares this link on FB. Just make sure to leave a comment in the comment section letting her know you did this. Isn't that cool?

So, Robin, tell us about yourself, your book, finding your dream agent, and your path to publication. (And, two things for the record: 1) "Ketchup is a Vegetable" is NOT a lie, and, 2) I'm glad I'm not the only one stalking Jenny!)

Hah! Where to begin? I've been an avid reader and writer my entire life. As a child, it was common for me to have dark circles under my eyes from staying up into the wee hours to read. I've journaled since I could write a complete sentence and throughout my life have been repeatedly told, "You should write a book."

I wanted to, I really did. I wanted to be a writer but I had no idea what to write about. I was good at expressing myself in words but I wasn't creating new worlds or going all J.K. Rowling in my free time. Reading and writing were private passions until my third child was born. Three daughters in four years, it's all a blur. Do the math, people. That's a lot of crazy.

I was writing about my kids extensively, because that's what I do. I am compelled to write about my life. But because my husband and I lived hundreds of miles from our families, I was also sending out mass emails on a daily and weekly basis to update our families on our shenanigans. And I heard it again and again, “You should write a book.” (Please note: this doesn't always mean you should and I realized that this was my mom and she might be a little biased.) I thought I might have an audience when my family members started forwarding my emails to everyone in their contact lists and I began receiving feedback from people I didn't know. I started a blog and somehow convinced the editor of our local paper to let me write a weekly family humor column.

I realized I had plenty of material and a subject matter that I loved. I started writing furiously. I wrote while I fed my baby. I wrote while my two-year-old and four-year-old napped. I bugged the crap out of all my book whore friends-- because avid readers make great betas. I asked for feedback from anyone who was willing to give it. I joined my local Writer's Association and started going to group meetings to get feedback from people who weren't my mother.

I ordered books about writing query letters. I quietly stalked the Query Shark and any other resource I could find online and started writing drafts of my letter. I purchased 'The Writers Market' and started looking for agents who represented non-fiction humor and women's interest books. And I sent out my first few queries.

I queried widely and was rejected widely. Every time an agent was kind enough to tell me why they said no, I did what I could to change that part of my letter. I read as much as I could in my genre and poured over the acknowledgments to see if the author had thanked her agent and I made a magical discovery. My three favorite humorists all thanked their agent-- Jenny Bent. And when I say “favorite” writers, I mean like The-Beatles-Favorite. Like if I saw them in person, I would hyperventilate and pass out.

I began stalking Jenny. Not scary-stalking, let's all remember that I had three kids under four years old. I didn't have time to wipe after I peed, much less be threatening and what not. But I began reading interviews with Jenny online, learning what she was looking for and what she liked to read. I read her client's blogs and one of them even sent me a copy of her query letter.

By the time I wrote my query to Jenny, I felt like I knew her. The letter I wrote to her was more personal and more reflective of my writing style than any of the others. But still, before I pressed, 'Send,' I almost chickened out. Jenny Bent was totally out of my league. As other agents had pointed out my one little local newspaper column wasn't a big enough platform. This was my first book, and many authors never get their first book published.

Another agent had a requested a partial and a book proposal and I was waiting to hear back from her. My last thought before I sent the email was, “It's not going to hurt anything to send it. She'll probably never read it anyway.”

I received an email within the week from one of Jenny's readers saying Jenny wanted to read the full manuscript and I almost blacked out. I sent the manuscript and tried not to think about the fact that the agent who represented three of the funniest women on the planet had my manuscript and was actually reading it.

I received an email from Jenny's assistant only a couple of weeks later saying (this is burned into my brain forevermore) “Jenny is on a plane, doubled over in laughter reading your manuscript. She wants to offer you representation and would like to set up a time to talk to you.”

I screamed so loudly I woke up all three of my sleeping children. (Waking children during nap-time is a mortal sin and I've almost popped a cap in the UPS man for ringing my doorbell before. Even though he was bringing me magical under-eye makeup from Sephora.) I ran screaming through my yard to my neighbor's house and almost gave her heart attack.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Authors don't get signed from the slush pile. Not to high caliber agents. But I did. Jenny Bent is careful with her queries, people. She doesn't want to miss anything.

For the last two years, Jenny has been an amazing mentor and editor. Her first revisions, though VERY kind and 100% accurate, hurt. We cut over half of the material and did a major rewrite. But she saw my strengths and my potential. Her advice helped me find my voice. She encouraged me to focus on my strengths and to throw away what was subpar. She helped me shape my manuscript into a book that we both love.

My platform grew. I self-syndicated my column in three states and I found outlets online and in print for my writing. And while I've been “waiting for something to happen” I wrote another book. Getting published isn't a race and now that it's finally here, I'm glad I took my time. I can't imagine this book being "out there" before now and I'm thankful for every single round of revisions. (I'm also glad they are over.)

Read the best of Robin's Chicks, Robin's blog about about surviving motherhood with three daughters and a sense of humor. Learn helpful tips such as: how to breastfeed behind your back*, how to talk to your daughters about male genitalia, and how to write a pet obituary. Purchase "Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves" on Amazon or download to your Kindle.

*Only applies to lactating women with a DD cup or larger.

Praise for, "Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves" 
by, Robin O'Bryant

"The humor of Bombeck and warmth of a best girlfriend... one of the funniest things I've ever read." Celia Rivenbark, New York Times bestselling author of, You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl

"Witty, insightful observations from my favorite mom on Twitter!" Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, bestselling author of, Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay

"A book about motherhood that will make you nod with recognition, while simulaneously reminding you schedule a hysterectomy." Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, author of, Let's Pretend This Never Happened

If you don’t have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O’Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting.

It’s not always pretty but it’s real. Whether she's stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined daughters… yelling at the F.B.I... or explaining the birds and the bees to her preschooler… you’re sure to find dozens of humorous and relatable situations.

From the creator of Robin's Chicks, one of the South’s most popular blogs on motherhood, misunderstandings and musings, comes a collection of essays that will not only make you laugh and cry, but realize that you’re not alone in your journey.

Sit back and relax, pour yourself some “mommy juice,” throw a fresh diaper on your baby and deadbolt the bedroom door to keep your kids out… because once you start reading you'll be too busy wiping away tears of laughter to wipe anybody's butt.

Robin O'Bryant is a self-syndicated humor columnist living in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and three daughters. Visit her at to point and laugh.


Gina aka Slappy said...

I used to follow Robin ... then I lost all of my favorites list in a tragic boxed wine incident .... but thanks to a post on Twitter ... I have found her!

Congrats on the book! Can't wait to read it.

M.E. said...

I went to high school with Robin, but it was only in the past couple of years I learned what a funny lady she is! I'm excited to read her book and tweet about it!
Mandie Trimble

MichBish said...

I want a copy! I want a copy! I posted on FB AND it's my birthday on Thursday...what more do you want?

Fragrant Liar said...

Congrats, Robin. You are fortunate to be noticed, but it wouldn't have happened if you didn't have the talent. Best to you.

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Gina, I hate when those tragic boxed wine incidents occur. SO tragic.

M.E., Robin is darn funny, indeed. Tx for tweeting about it!

Michelle, I hope you don't mind my asking a personal question, but do you want a copy? It was hard to tell from your comment.

FL, Yup, Robin is one talented gal. So glad to be able to pass the good word along.

Joanne said...

Best wishes to Robin ...

And thanks for your thoughts and support over at my blog, Debra ~ I appreciate it :)

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Joanne, I'm happy to support you - you deserve every bit of success coming your way!

Hamlin said...

Nice post..Moms are so much more powerful than they realize. How they are feeling on a particular day can have significant effects on the entire family. A Mom can and does influence so many things in her environment. And that can affect how she feels, and in turn how the other family members feel.

Dark Circles Under Eyes said...

I'm glad for you. Hope to be more success

Andrea Goto said...

Robin rocks. And while I'm going to buy the book, I figure I can get in the running for a free one with Christmas and all. So glad you featured her here. She's an all-around talent: writer, mom and friend. Not at all surprised by her success!

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Hamlin, DCUE, and Andrea, Thanks for stopping by, and we'll be sure to throw your hat in the ring for the free, signed book!

Elysa said...

I posted this on fb and tagged Robin it it. As a fellow Mississippi mama, I'd love to read her book!

elisamarie said...

I posted on FB again today and I also tweeted it for my Twitter friends!

Ann Imig said...

Robin is so inspiring, talented, and kind.

Thanks to both of you!

Debra, I hope your path to publication is still moving forward. I remember reading your exciting post when you found your agent.

Happy Holidays,

MARINA said...

I LOVE this book. I just wrote a
review about it on my blog:

Robin is freaking hilarious and I can't wait to read more of her stuff.
Xoxo - Marina

Nancy said...

I can't wait to read this book. Sounds like it will be great.

Like Button

There was an error in this gadget