Congratulations! You’re a Mom and an Author!

by Meryl Evans | Category: Books, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 14 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. I first met Kristin through Christina Katz. Since then, I’ve read her book, exchanged a few tweets and emails and absorbed her column in Kristin Bair O'KeeffeWriters on the Rise. (Stay tuned in this post if ya wanna win this book!)

About Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
Kristin Bair O’Keeffe is the author of Thirsty and an American who lives in Shanghai, China. She is also a voracious reader, a happy mom, an engaging teacher who believes in “telling the best story you can…believing in your writing…and working your arse off,” a fierce advocate for the end of domestic violence, and a writer who spends as much time as possible in writerhead. To find out more, visit or Kristin’s blog at

Now… post from Kristin Bair O’Keeffe.


You’re a Mom and an Author!


The Beginning

On September 26, 2008, I was in an orphanage in a small village in Vietnam. On that spectacular, unforgettable, life-changing day, a nanny placed my eight-month-old daughter in my arms for the first time.

Three weeks later when our adoption was complete, my husband and I wrapped our arms around Tully and each other, finished up our Vietnam journey, and returned to our home in Shanghai, China.

On October 24 — less than a month after I officially became a mom — I got an email from David Sanders, the director of Swallow Press. “We would like to publish your novel Thirsty,” he told me.



After all the dreaming, work, sweat, worry, anticipation, rewrites, excitement, ups-and-downs, paperworkpaperchasingheartsmashingheartopening, I achieved two lifelong dreams in less than one month’s time.





Good gracious me.

What Next?

Of course, all the gorgeous things that are supposed to happen when you become a mom and when you become an author happened:

  • I fell in love with my daughter. Deeply, madly, sweetly.
  • I read and reread (and um, yes, reread) the email from David Sanders, rejoicing in the fact that my debut novel finally was going to make its way into readers’ hands.
  • I obsessed about formula, vaccinations, and pediatricians.
  • I nested and made a comfy home for our family.
  • I obsessed about the quality of water in China and prayed that our bottled water was as safe as they said it was.
  • I obsessed about what the cover of Thirsty would look like and wondered if I’d get a chance to say “yea” or “nay” or if the worst happened, “Have you lost your bloody mind?”
  • I obsessed about… (you see the trend here, yes?)


then the reality hit. Suddenly I had to edit my novel AND take care of my new baby…at the same time. While I’d dreamed of both things happening, never had I expected them to happen in the same month.

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe and daughter Tully

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe and daughter Tully

Now when I look back, I can’t quite figure out how I did it, but I guess that’s the mystery of human will. I was determined not to have any childcare help during Tully’s first months at home…the three of us had a lot of bonding to do as a family. So while Tully was awake and Andrew was at work, she and I were a team…the dynamic duo. We wandered the streets of Shanghai, danced, played, read books, touched noses, and got to know one another.

While Tully slept (during naps, early in the mornings, and late at night), I edited.

Was I exhausted?


Was I cranky at my husband?

Oh, gosh, yeah.

Did I neglect important friendships?

Too often.

Was I deliriously happy?


Did I finish the edit?

Barely, but yes.

Ta Da!

Thirsty: A NovelNow…jump in time to October 1, 2009. Thirsty is in bookstores. Tully and I are in the United States for a mini-book tour. She is a happy, silly, healthy, brilliant, stubborn toddler. I am a happyhappyhappy, silly, healthy (and yes, sometimes stubborn) mom with a great husband and terrific friends who all nurtured me through my happiest, most challenging new mama moments. I am also an author.

Win: To win a copy of the book, please leave a comment at least 50 words about parenthood, the place where you grew up or a favorite locale. You have until 11:59pm on November 25, 2009 to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic has the honor of picking the winner.

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  • Posted by Jodi on November 18th, 2009, 8:45 AM

    Funny, I was just talking with a friend about parenthood the other day, specifically about when babies arrive. All three of my babies were early so I was never prepared(are we ever?). Esp. baby #1 who was one month(to the day)before my due date and no one(with the exception of my very young nervous husband)was convinced I was in labor! Baby #2 was born Dec. 6 but due Dec. 24. The only time in my life I had all my Christmas shopping done early! Baby #3 born Feb. 28 but due March 16. You would think by then I would know better but I went into hospital FOUR times and FOUR times they sent me home. Once we got a flat and a policeman arrived to take me to hospital(now there was a nervous guy!) Another time we had a huge snowstorm and the roads were closed to traffic except for emergency vehicles. And I thought that was the crazy part–until I got them home!

  • Posted by Colleen on November 18th, 2009, 12:01 PM

    My favorite locale is the new house that my husband and I just bought. A 100 year old farmhouse sitting atop a hill, the view from the master bedroom is breathtaking.
    We aren’t living in the house yet, due to some renos that need to be done, but I can imagine our life there, in the country. I’m especially looking forward to the first big snowfall where I can curl up on the couch with a book, some tea and watch the snow fall.
    .-= Colleen’s blog …Teaser Tuesdays: Fade Out =-.

  • Posted by JoAnne on November 18th, 2009, 12:32 PM

    My daughter is 8 and in 2nd grade. She’s at this strange transition period where one moment she’s acting like a baby and then suddenly, the words coming out of her mouth paint her as a world-traveled, slightly amused, know-it-all adult! What scares me is I’m not sure I’m ready to handle either of her personas. She can go from the silliest child in the world to telling me how to deal with men – “you know mom, they’re boys” – at the drop of a hat. She wants a sibling so she can play with the baby’s toys (uh, no) and then she wants a cell phone to text her friends (not on your life). What do I do? What can I do, I’m just trying to keep up. I have to know what the hot topics are on the playground as well as what Hot Topic is; what movies are truly appropriate for her maturity level and how to explain to her that it’s ok for the actors on stage to kiss, even though they’re not married. When I feel overwhelmed with the newness that is my child, I point out to her father that her upper body is starting to show signs of bumps. His panicked expression and mumbles of “that’s not happening, I forbid it,” make me feel a little less alone.

  • Posted by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe on November 18th, 2009, 4:56 PM

    It’s Thursday morning here in Shanghai, and Jodi, thanks for getting me laughing so early in the day. Four times? Amazing.

    Also your last sentence (And I thought that was the crazy part–until I got them home!) and JoAnne’s comment about her 8-year-old make me realize (even more than I already have) how much fun and craziness (and panic) are still to come.

    I’ve decided that when it all gets too crazy, I’m going to go to Colleen’s new/old farmhouse and curl up on her couch with a book and a cup of tea. Colleen, you won’t mind a little company, will you? I can be really, really quiet. 🙂
    .-= Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s blog …Catching Up… =-.

  • Posted by Dawn Herring on November 18th, 2009, 6:44 PM

    One of my favorite childhood locale’s was Terrace Lake. I spent many a summer with my Mom and Aunt Jean and cousins where we swam in the man-made lake, enjoyed the slides and diving boards, and mastered standing on our hands under water. I enjoyed many rides on the swings under the large trees and hung from my knees on the monkey bars. We always enjoyed an occasional treat from the snack bar where we would get a candy bar or ice cream sandwich. Terrace Lake is no longer in existence. There are now condos ‘on Terrace Lake’ even though the lake is gone. I will always have fond memories of my favorite summertime place where I grew up.
    .-= Dawn Herring’s blog …A Mult-Dimensional View: Gratitude =-.

  • Posted by George Angus on November 19th, 2009, 8:45 AM

    Awesome, great story. Fortune smiles upon you for sure.


    .-= George Angus’s blog …Vintage George – 15 Years Is A Long Time =-.

  • Posted by Teresa on November 20th, 2009, 7:34 AM

    Isn’t it funny how life is like that… all the good things at once, the bad likes to rain down. I’m not sure why that is, but it happens so often that we have axioms about it. 🙂
    Hearty congratulations on the book publication. Tully is undoubtedly proud of her mom.


  • Posted by Nichole Bernier on November 20th, 2009, 8:31 PM

    No matter how a child comes into your life, adoption or labor, there’s an element of surprise: oh THIS is what you look like; this is what you feel like; well look at little you, suddenly here in my life, and now today is nothing like yesterday. I had my fifth child recently. This time, it caught me by surprise, two weeks early with my water breaking at 2am. So surreal when it happens fast in the middle of the night. I woke up in the hospital with a newborn in the basinette beside me, like I’d had a crazy dream and brought home a souvenir.

  • Posted by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe on November 20th, 2009, 8:49 PM

    Thanks, George! It sure does.
    .-= Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s blog …Catching Up… =-.

  • Posted by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe on November 20th, 2009, 8:58 PM


    That feeling is SO true: “oh THIS is what you look like; this is what you feel like; well look at little you, suddenly here in my life, and now today is nothing like yesterday.” The funny thing for me is (and probably for everyone), I keep feeling that way about my daughter. Every time she changes in some significant way–like right now as she’s starting to really, really talk–I’m surprised and awed. “Oh this is what your voice sounds like.” I love it.

    This morning when she woke, I asked, “What did you dream about?” I’m used to filling in the answers…”Did you dream about turtles? Did you dream about making pies? etc.” But this morning when I asked, she said, “French fries.” I’m still laughing.

    Wow…your 5th. Congratulations (obviously a little belated).
    .-= Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s blog …Catching Up… =-.

  • Posted by Meryl on November 21st, 2009, 7:41 AM

    Wow, Nichole! FIVE? And here I can’t imagine four. (I have three kids.)

    But I tell ya… every arrival can be as different as night and day and in between.

    They were all born in different hospitals and cities (Alexandria, Dallas and Plano).

    One was water breaking followed by inducing, one was typical labor and one was two weeks early with a C-section due to another issue.

    No matter how many kids you have — you just never know how they will come into your world: adopted, birth or other.

    I decide to have a cochlear implant ( right after my youngest was born. I wanted to see if he would sound different than the others did when I had hearing aids. Turns out — not much.

    Thanks, y’all — for sharing your stories and for stopping by.

  • Posted by Erika Robuck on November 23rd, 2009, 6:34 AM

    Wow! I can’t imagine all of those things happening at once, but you must be so proud that you were able to get through it all! Congratulations.

    Yesterday on Facebook, a friend of mine with twins posted “Will I ever be able to eat a bowl of cereal again without sharing it?” As the mother of three boys seven and under, it’s a question I ask myself, often, but it was in reading her post that I realized–Yes! Yes we will. And when that day comes, we will heartily miss when we had to share it with our little ones.

    Last weekend, I heard a new song by the band Carbon Leaf called “X-Ray” about a summer day in the life of an 8 year old boy. It was full of references to lightning bugs and locust shells and dogs running beside bikes. When I heard it, I realized it’s not until adulthood that those little things can be appreciated.

    I think one of the things our children teach us is that all time is precious and temporary. It is a great gift to find the beauty of your moment–wherever it is–and revel in it. Doing so gives you two opportunities at joy and appreciation: 1) remembering the moment, and 2) enjoying it in live action.

    Enjoy your day.

  • Posted by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe on November 23rd, 2009, 6:50 AM

    Thanks, Teresa!

    And Erika…I’ve got a few months that are mostly a happy blur. 🙂
    .-= Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s blog …Catching Up… =-.

  • Posted by Links: Thanksgiving 2009 Edition | on December 1st, 2009, 9:13 AM

    […] Congratulations to Nicole Bernier for winning a copy of Thirsty! […]

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