Judybird Publishing


I sat down with an agent who told me if I gave To Soften the Blow to a publisher, it would come back to me in fourteen months, my words slashed, the pictures and cover of someone else’s choosing. And the biggie: I’d have to sign a contract about where and when I could speak. In that moment, I saw my life and my story being given away, reshaped. That’s it. I decided to self-publish.

I read an article about a nineteen-year old girl who sold 240,000 copies of her book in one month, using only Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Okay, time to get started.

I opened my Facebook account, reconnecting with old friends and accepting every new one that requested on board. A parent of one of my student’s offered to put my book on Kindle and Nook in October 2011. I gave a book talk demonstrating Nook at Barnes and Noble that December. I was encouraged to hear from readers galore and a professor who was using my book in his Adolescent Psychology class.

I began the process of getting To Soften the Blow to print. It turned out to be a full-time job and, since I already had a full-time job, I did nothing else. I found a printer and worked on Library of Congress and ISBN numbers. I continued to edit for typos and hired a book and web site designer. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about shopping carts, firewalls, PayPal, VA Sales Tax, Square CC swiper, shipping, and storage fees. My first printed book was delivered in April 2012, on my fifty-third birthday.

I gave several book talks accompanied by sales in Virginia, Florida, and Kentucky, all the while selling online.

After laboring each day for the previous two years, I took a break and spent almost a month alone in Florida, doing the big work. I needed to get my book in print on Amazon, but also wanted it on bookshelves such as Barnes and Noble. Because of their competition, this became complicated and took time to work out. Also at that time, a Washington Post reporter became interested in doing an article on my family’s story.

For years as a speaker, I have taken educators into the mind of a traumatized child, purely on an educational level. Having written To Soften the Blow, I realized I’d not been telling the whole truth. There is a spiritual level, a universal intelligence that helps a person cope with stress that is rarely touched upon and often ignored in classrooms.

I intend to talk about this for the rest of my life.

Judybird… the Name…

When people ask me how I can expose myself so fully in To Soften the Blow, I always think of Judy.  We lost our little sister to mental illness.  She is my greatest motivation for going public with my family’s story.

When we were young, Judy made up nicknames for Mary and me.  Mary’s nickname was “Murraybird,” mine “Looneybird.”  Lord only knows where she got those names.  She was just Judy to us. But all these years later, to Mary and me, it seemed only fitting to name our publishing company after our little love, our little “Judybird.”

“Mental illness is the result of unresolved grief.” Unknown