Robin Wiley O’Bryant has accomplished many goals as a wife and young mother of three girls — Aubrey, 9; Emma, 7, and Sadie, 4. She is a syndicated humor columnist, blogger and author. O’Bryant has lived in Mississippi for the past four years with her husband, Zeb, and their kids. She originally hails from Jasper where she was a graduate of Walker High School, but she has stayed busy and been on the “go” as a stay-at-home mom ever since.
“My husband and I got married in 1998; I was 20 and he was 19, he’s from Curry. We left Jasper then, and we have, basically, lived all over the Southeast since. We were in Bible school in Fort Worth, Texas, for two years, and we just didn’t really know what we wanted to do in school,” O’Bryant said “… We ended up back at Auburn University, and I got a degree in nursing and my husband’s degree is in building science and construction. So, we went from Jasper to Fort Worth to Auburn to Savannah, Ga., to Charleston, S.C., and back here [in Mississippi].”
Even though O’Bryant had a nursing degree under her belt, she still had a passion for writing. She began reading and writing journal entries at a young age. She had always “secretly” dreamed of being a writer, but she didn’t know where to begin.
“After doing the mission thing, faith is very important to us, I had this sense that we’d be moving a lot, but I didn’t know why or for what. So, I thought, ‘I want a job that I can do anywhere in the world where I can help people,’ so nursing was great, and I loved it,” she said, while pausing mid sentence to answer a question one of her kids asked her. “… Being a writer was such a secret. If you had even asked me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I never would have said out loud, ‘I want to be a writer,’ because I had no idea, really, until I had kids what I wanted to write about.”
She says she felt “compelled to write” about her life. Thanks to wonderful developments in technology, O’Bryant began emailing updates about her and her family while living in Savannah with her husband, then 2-year-old Aubrey and Emma on the way.
Some of the emails were so outrageous and funny that her family members began forwarding the emails to their friends and coworkers. O’Bryant began receiving responses from people she didn’t even know, which she then realized “what I was experiencing was very universal and that people were interested.”
After moving to Charleston, O’Bryant began writing a blog and outlining her first book — which is called “Ketchup is a Vegetable.” A friend of hers encouraged O’Bryant to submit some of her writings to the local newspaper. Suddenly, things began falling into place for her.
“This is my topic. This is what I’ve been waiting for all of my life. What am I going to write about? This,” she said. “I needed publishing credentials, so I started a newspaper column so I would have publishing credentials to put in my letter to get a literary agent to write a book.”
She then contacted her very “patient and inspirational” agent Jenny Bent, of The Bent Agency, and signed on with her in 2009. O’Bryant credits Bent as being marketing savvy, as well as her mentor and editor.
She said she was in complete “shock” when she had found out that “Ketchup is a Vegetable,” — which O’Bryant says has sold an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 copies — hit the Times best-seller list at No. 3 back in September of this year.
She added that 9,000 copies were sold during the week she found out that her book made it to the Times best-seller list, and 30,000 copies were downloaded within a free 24-hour promotional event when the book had only been out for six months.
“Once I hit the New York Times best-seller list, we started getting interests from some of the big publishers from New York City, and so we ended up selling ‘Ketchup’ to St. Martin’s Press in a two-book deal,” O’Bryant excitedly said. “They have purchased ‘Ketchup is a Vegetable’ and it will be republished by St. Martin’s Press around Mother’s Day of 2014. They’ll be re-releasing it and I’m sort of excited to see what it’s going to do.”
There is no specific release date set for O’Bryant’s second book, which she said is tentatively titled “Are You There God? It’s Me, Mommy.”
Her next book is more of a spiritual memoir about how God has used motherhood and her kids and has brought her through a journey of “self-acceptance” and of learning how to “really love myself and appreciate that I am who God made me to be.”
Her second book, however, will still continue to be humorous. She spoke of two essays, one in particular, where she pushes herself to the very edge of her writing — even to the point where she’s afraid to write the story not knowing how her own mother will react to reading it.
This mommy-blogging enthusiast, writer, author, speaker, wife and mother of three cried tears of joy when she had the most “surreal” experience of her life. However, she says none of it would be possible without her loyal readers.
“It was very moving to have done that, but the things that mean the most to me are getting emails or talking to readers,” O’Bryant said. “Getting that one-on-one from readers and getting feedback from readers that have been touched, that’s what I love, that’s what I live [for] and that’s why I do it. … We’re all in this together.”
For more information on O’Bryant or to read her blogs, you can visit her website at robinschicks.com, friend request her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read her columns published each Wednesday in the Daily Mountain Eagle.