March 9, 2022

Birth Stories for Books: Mommy Ever After, by Rebecca Fox Starr

Hello readers. Settle into a nice cozy spot, and get yourself a cup of something comforting and warm. Today we have a very personal and inspirational Birth Stories for Books interview with Rebecca Fox Starr, author of MOMMY EVER AFTER (illustrated by Sara Ugolotti, Familius, March, 2022). 

by Rebecca Fox Starr and Sara Ugolotti

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Rebecca. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming release of your first picture book, MOMMY EVER AFTER.  

You write an award-winning blog and you’ve authored non-fiction books for adults, but MOMMY EVER AFTER is your first book for children. I’d love to hear how the idea for this story came to be, and specifically, how the repeating phrase, “And they lived mommy ever after…Because we are not always going to feel happy, but I am always going to be your mommy,” came to be. 

Rebecca Fox Starr: Thank you for having me! It is a pleasure. 

What a great question and one that I have never before been asked. This a birth story in two parts; my happy story and then my hopeful story. When I became a mom in April of 2010 I quickly realized the importance of human connection. I was the first of my friends to get married and have a baby and so I had no one with whom I could talk about honest motherhood. How things are enchanting and wonderful and hard and scary and lonely and boring and magical, all at once. So, in June of 2010 I started a blog, called “Mommy Ever After.” At the time, I chose the name because it felt authentic to my daughter and me. Her name is that of a Disney princess, after all! As the blog grew, so did my confidence. I was finding a groove in motherhood. I was living my happy story! And then, when I became pregnant with my son in 2013, I began to suffer from prenatal and then, later, postpartum anxiety and depression. I was just walloped. I call the period of time in which I suffered from severe postpartum distress my “hard story” but I always want to be clear that having my son wasn’t hard or any less magical than having my daughter. Four months after his birth, I decided to open up, in real time, about my ongoing struggle with postpartum depression, and that moment of vulnerability changed everything for me. I began my own “hopeful story.”

The blog started to grow, my reach broadened, and I became a full-time writer. Then, author. 

Fun fact that I’ve never before shared: when my first book, “Beyond the Baby Blues: Anxiety and Depression During and After Pregnancy” was being shopped to publishers its working title was “Mommy Ever After.” It took years, but I was finally given a book deal in 2016. The name, however, had to change. When I got a second book deal we named it “Baby Ever After: Expanding Your Family After Postpartum Depression” which was closer to my dream title. 

Long story long, all of that is to say that the idea for Mommy Ever After was born when my daughter was born, but then really crystallized when my son was born. She made me into the mother I had always dreamed of being, and he made me into the mother I was meant to be. Creating a children’s book with an emphasis on emotional and mental health, was a natural next step. I wanted to normalize negative emotions and the power of resilience for kids and for their parents. I wanted my kids to know that no matter how dark things had gotten for me I always loved them and I would always be their mommy. 

Image Source: Rebecca Fox Starr

DP: What a beautiful, heartfelt and meaningful backstory, Rebecca. You definitely have a way with words, and I'm not all surprised that your honesty and vulnerability brought and continues to bring comfort and engagement to many others. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.  

Shifting gears a bit, I'd like to hear about the process and timeframe between your initial idea for your children's book and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor.

RFS: My journey with Familius has been unexpected, interesting and delightful! I first connected with Familius through their awesome PR director, who sent me a review copy of “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts.” After bonding with this woman, I decided to take a risk and pitch my idea to her. She told me to write up a manuscript, I did just that, sent it in, she kept me updated, and in May of 2019 I got an email from Christopher, the Founder and President, asking me to meet him over the phone. My husband speculated that they were going to offer me a book deal but I was too anxious to let my mind go there. He did, I cried, and the rest is history!

DP: Ah, more beautiful backstory! 

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of MOMMY EVER AFTER to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

RFS: I can tell you that my earlier draft of the story was probably 10 times longer than the finished product. I can also tell you that editing this book down to 1,000 words was much more difficult than creating my non-fiction works, despite their being 60,000-80,000 words. 

DP: I'm in complete agreement with you here, Rebecca! Adding words to the page is ALWAYS easier for me than cutting them! That's one of the reasons I enjoy blogging, because I can incorporate all the words! ; )

RFS: I have had an amazing time editing this story, as the Familius editorial staff is fantastic. They certainly brought out the best in me. 

I did have to let go of certain ideas and I am happy to say that I cannot think of most of them off the top of my head, which means we made the right call. 

One thing that was edited involves a vignette where the little girl protagonist visits an island. Originally, in this bedtime story within the story, she is taken to an island where her favorite foods grew on trees. There were sushi trees, and popcorn trees, and spaghetti and meatballs trees. 

The editors wanted to make sure we were being sensitive around potential food issues, and so we had to change the island from a place with her favorite foods to a place with her favorite things. I am much happier with that idea!

Another thing that stands out is the precision we used to come up with the right words to describe our main character girl. She is never named, though we follow her from infancy through tween-hood. I cannot tell you how much time we spent trying to decide on the simple adjectives we would use to qualify the girl’s age and stage, without causing confusion. I remember tossing around “baby girl” and “little girl” and “young girl” and “big girl” and “toddler girl” and it’s wild to think of how such a tiny detail was one that took the most time. 

DP: Yes, yes! The difficulty of those tiny details can be crazy-making!

Beyond what you've already shared, reflecting on the journey from idea to published book, is there any one moment along the way that you credit with opening the door for this particular story to find its way to publication? 

RFS: I think that multiple people had to come from a place of “yes” which is something that I try to do. I have recovered from severe mental illness with my prenatal and postpartum depression and, now that I can find joy, again, try to have a more positive view of life. I said “yes” to reviewing the “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” book, the wonderful former PR director at Familius said “yes” to exploring the idea with me, Brooke, my editor, said “yes” to working with me on specific things about my pitch that needed modification in order to make the submission as strong as possible, and then Christopher said “yes” to taking this chance on me. 

DP: That's such a fantastic way of looking at things, Rebecca. It's cosmic to me how little openings can lead to or create bigger openings. 

When you compare the path to publication for this book to your non-fiction book(s) for adults, what are some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each?

RFS: I have been so fortunate to work with two great publishing houses: Rowman & Littlefield for my first two books and Familius for this book. I think the differences are exactly what you’d expect from juxtaposing a non-fiction, academic publisher with a warm, family-oriented publishing house (it should be called a publishing home, if you ask me). 

DP: I love that term. I think we should start using it! 

RFS: I can tell you that getting the first book deal was the hardest, and the second one was much quicker and easier. I had proven myself, I guess, and so they believed in me. I pitched a fourth book, a parenting title, to Familius in the Spring and was offered a deal for that book which will be coming out in 2024!

DP: Fantastic! We will get to bring new books with Familius into the world together (I have a children's book coming out with them in 2024!) 

Currently your blog is read “in all 50 states and over 160 countries worldwide,” and your work has been featured in wide array of television, media and print outlets nationwide. Based on your experience developing such a strong platform for your blog and your non-fiction books for adults, what key take-aways will you likewise apply in your outreach for your children’s book? and/or what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow authors seeking to expand their platforms and audience for their books?

Image Source: Rebecca Fox Starr

RFS: In order to succeed I have had to be vulnerable, persistent, hardworking, and kind. Be tenacious in trying to write your own story! I was rejected over and over and over again. It just took one offer to change everything. 

DP: Such excellent advice, and so well said, Rebecca. Thank for this! 

Your online bio indicates that you are a singer/songwriter that has played gigs all around the Philadelphia area. One of my favorite creative experiences has been collaborating with music professionals to create original songs and videos for my picture books (you can view a recent collaboration here .) I’d love to hear more about your work as a singer/songwriter, including where folks can go to hear your music, and/or any plans you have for bringing together these two forms of creative expression. 

RFS: I have always had a passion for music. I don’t want to oversell myself as a musician, it is really just a hobby, but one that has brought me great joy. I joke that by day I am “mommy” but by night I can “party like a Fox Starr.” 

DP: Very fun. Love it! (I've long told my friends and family that I play a mean tambourine, and one day I'm going to be part of a girl band...we shall see!) 

RFS: I have not done any music outside of my home since the start of the pandemic and I miss it a lot. I am fortunate to have a good friend who is my music partner and he and I harmonize together, mostly doing song covers, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Healing, even. In recent years I learned how to play guitar and that has allowed me to further explore my songwriting. 

Image Source: Rebecca Fox Starr

I feel like there’s a parallel between that and my book writing: If I wanted to achieve my goal, I had to work at it and I could not/can not rely on anyone else to do the heavy lifting for me. My daughter is an amazing little singer and so my current role is “theatre mom” without being a “stage mom.”

DP: It sounds like you have found some very fulfilling ways to incorporate music into your life. (One of my music heroes is Annie Lynn -- she is a fellow Philadelphian. I'm willing to bet that she might have some great ideas and opportunities that align with your daughter's musical interests--I collaborated with her team on the song for my Pirate/Potty book. She is fantastic to work with!) 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

RFS: “Hey, Becca. You know how this feels scary? How the rejections can feel searing? Don’t take it personally and don’t let this discomfort deter you. Show me your grit.” That sounds trite, and I don’t want it to, but it’s true. On a more personal level, the Becca of this time in 2014 would be floored to hear that not only would she survive, she would go on to help others in this area. I was deep in the darkness, and I would assure myself of all of the light ahead. 

DP: Thank you for this, Rebecca. I feel certain there is someone reading this post right now who needs to hear exactly these words. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. 

Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for MOMMY EVER AFTER that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

RFS: When I first read a draft of “Mommy Ever After” to Belle, my daughter, she started to cry. I asked her why she was crying. She said she didn’t know how to explain it. Now, she’s able to articulate that she felt moved. That moment managed to sneak itself into the book. “Some feelings don’t even have names.” Also, if you can write something that moves your child to tears, you’ve succeeded. 

DP: Wow. Just wow. (And for the record--that is one of my favorite lines in your book.)

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

RFS: I know I mentioned the parenting book I am working on for Familius and I am really excited about it. Without giving too much away, it is a creative take on a very common source of strife for moms. I am also working on improving the screening for women who may be suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. That work is definitely out of my comfort zone, but I hope I can look back on this moment in a few years, in a blog interview, perhaps, and talk about how that big idea began!

DP: I'll be looking forward to hearing more about that project. 

Thank you so much for sharing your Birth Story for MOMMY EVER AFTER  with us, Rebecca. I look forward to following your work and walking the publication journey with you for our 2024 releases with Familius.

RFS: Thank you so much! It’s been a pleasure to share this chapter of my story!

Friends, you know what to do...head on over to Bookshop or your favorite local indie and get yourself a copy of this meaningful book. Can't add another book to your own collection? Ask your local library to include MOMMY EVER AFTER in their collection and/or share this post with a friend.  


Image Source: Rebecca Fox Starr
Rebecca Fox Starr is an author and advocate for maternal mental health. She lives and writes outside of Philadelphia with her family. Learn more at


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at  

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