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Oprah's Book of the Week: The Bluebird Effect!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tooty, toot, toot. Rooty, toot, toot. Sometimes I grab my little horn and toot it. This is one of those times.

The Bluebird Effect is Book of the Week at

As in Oprah's Book Club. My book got the Big Point from the Fickle Finger of Fate.

What is a bird book doing there, in the first place, and what is a bird book written by me doing there?

The gods must be crazy.

Bill's been saying he's the Steadman of Whipple. All four of us went to Bar-B-Cutie in Marietta yesterday and ate a celebratory meal of fried okra. I drank a quarter of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that night, then quit. I'm a cheap date.

I try not to obsess about it, about what it might mean for book sales. I only check its Amazon sales rank about four times a day. That's not neurotic. It had been hovering at around 6,000, and now it's right up around 1,000. Meaning there are only 1,000 other titles selling better than it is. Which feels pretty good, for a book about raising baby hummingbirds and chimney swifts. There are an awful lot of books in this world.

This is pretty arcane stuff, the brass tacks of dealing with orphaned and injured birds. I think it's interesting; most of you think it's interesting, but would the general public?

I wonder. Maybe it's all just bizarre enough to get someone's attention, or maybe it's the 320 paintings and drawings that did it. Maybe it's the insanely beautiful production Houghton Mifflin Harcourt lavished on it.

Maybe it's just luck.

I think about it all as I grub in the dirt, pulling creeping Charlie off my asparagus shoots and throwing wads of weeds over my shoulder. I wonder if I may have written and illustrated a book that will sell well at long last.

 A book that has crossover potential from the usual suspects (birders and nature enthusiasts) to Oprah's Book Club people. I know that Letters from Eden has that potential, but Oprah didn't bite when my publicist, Taryn Roeder, sent it last time.

I'm just grateful, that's all.

Fielding pre-order requests at the Midwest Birding Symposium in September, 2011. Finally got them all sent out!

All it makes me want to do is write more, and that's the best feeling of all.

If y'all want to go over to Oprah's Book Club page and leave a salient comment, I'd be much obliged. Don't worry. They don't send you a bunch of emailed stuff when you register.  As always, nice reviews on the Amazon page for The Bluebird Effect help, too. There's a lady who docked it a star because one of the chapters is about ivory-billed woodpeckers, and everyone knows they're extinct!  Hmmph. And another lady who said, "If you want my opinion, her husband is a saint to put up with it all!"

Well, howdy-doo to you, too.

That's not neurotic, to worry about that stuff, right? Whoops, slipped to 1,500. All right. I'm going to go pull some weeds, plant some peas. Uniform: Round House overalls, workboots and a sports bra. It's a look. And no, there are no pictures of it.

As always, you can hit the order buttons on the right sidebar if you want to buy a book personalized by me. I can't meet Amazon's prices, and I don't even try. As long as you have the book, I don't mind where you got it. It just makes me happy that you like it. I'm thankful for your patronage, thankful for this wonderful life lived amongst birds. The blue-gray gnatcatchers got in today, and a yellow-throated warbler was singing from a creek valley as I drove home. It's all beginning again.


CONGRATS! ...and I hope this doesn't sound too negative in the midst of your joy, but I haven't seen your book in any of my area bookstores (some of us old fogies still don't like buying books online), and I don't understand why Houghton-M doesn't do a better job of promoting & distributing your books (really, it's ashame; they should be spanked!). The only "nature" writer I know who writes as well you is Diane Ackerman (and her style/subject matter is quite different), and I never have any problem finding her volumes. I know you won't say it, so I will: Houghton, get on the ball!

Congratulations, Julie! Awesome news and none of your "mothering and hovering" is neurotic at all! Simply checking on the accomplishments of a beloved child. Your book is wonderful! I have it on the shelf right beside me for whenever I have a moment of quiet and want a little nurturing from the natural world through the experiences of a special author and artist. Congratulations to you, to conservation, to the natural world and to Oprah for discovering your wonderful: The Bluebird Effect"!

Many congratulations Julie.

For one thing its awesome that any nature-based book gets chosen but for two there couldn't be a more deserving recipient of this selection whether nature-based or otherwise.

I'm made up for you.

That's fantastic--congratulations, but especially: well deserved! "Spider Silk" never came out of the 100,000s and I thought that was pretty good. So I'm thrilled for you.

Cyberthrush: one way to get Julie's books into independent book stores is to order them from there and ask your friends to order, too. Lots of people (probably not you) don't realize that they can order any book from a local store. It's that interest from readers that alerts booksellers to quiet but worthwhile books. And if they say they saw it on Oprah, that will definitely prick up booksellers' ears.

Love the book! Pre-ordered from Amazon, so I've had it for nearly two weeks. Particularly love the chapter on Charlie...had me misty-eyed. Love the dust cover seemingly made from watercolor paper...clever! Best of luck and much success with sales!

As you know, Julie, it was too heavy to take on my last trip by air, but today it's going IN THE CAR with us for an 8 hr ride...hoping that my hubby won't mind listening to the radio or better yet, silence, while I read....or I could read it out loud while he drives. It does read well that way, although it chokes me up and ruins my mascara. Maybe better to leave it off, don't ya think?

Well done!!!! (And that publicist deserves a raise or something - maybe a bottle of wine - preferably an unopened one) :-) Tell Steadman I said hey.


Don't worry so much! Cream always rises to the top. Quality still gets its due even in this crazy world!

Posted by Ray Smart April 5, 2012 at 7:20 AM

Toot that horn! Congratulations! I'll have to buy this book soon. Your fried okra celebration made me smile, that sounds like heaven to me!

Julie, this is such good news - am thrilled for you. Was going to get my copy at the New River Gorge festival but Lori reminded me about carrying the extra weight on a plane so I just ordered one from you now. Can't wait to read it, see the illustrations.

WAY TO GO Julie!!! WHOO HOO!!! I love your blog, it's a highlight of my day and I love your sense of style. It's about time SOMETHING REALLY GOOD happened to a nice person. YAY!!!!

Oh, but you're simply everywhere now!! Murrs' blog highlighted you this week and now Oprah. You're sure to take the world by storm. Congrats, I couldn't be happier for you.


"The Steadman of Whipple"--that made us laugh out loud!

WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!
May Blue Birds of happiness surround you.
How fabo...fabo.

You mean *Saint* Steadman of Whipple, of course.
I meant to ask you, also, about the dust jacket paper with the coating on the inside.

Posted by DallasD April 5, 2012 at 5:03 PM

That is wonderful news for you and it surely will increase your sales and just think of all the good it will do. People who would not ordinarily pick a natural history book as reading material, will dash out and buy it. You will actually be creating more birders. Congratulations.

You must be wiggling and writhing like Baker with a new chew toy.

Happier than a puppy with two tails.

As happy as a T.V. with a dead skunk.

As ticled as a puppies belly.

I can't say how happy I am for you.

Looking forward to getting our copy in the mail.

Wow. But that's SO NOT amazing. Your wonderful talent for connecting us with your writing and then those dreamy paintings.... You just need a good venue to let the rest of the world learn about you and your works.

Anyway, I'm going to try and get this refuge to buy this book as well as the other refuges where I've worked.

Living as a homeless person means I can't keep books. BUT I just got a Kindle fire and your book is downloading as I write.

Congrats on making Oprah's list! I've read many of Oprah's recommendations and I look forward to reading your Bluebird book! We have "Letters from Eden," where I heard you speak at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and you signed my book, (our book, ok?). Harvey Webster, my resident wildman, has "The Bluebird Effect" to review for The Plain Dealer. I love your books and I love your blog. Thank you, Doris (please prove you're not a robot - ha!)

Just finished reading this book and LOVED it. (Found it at the Lib, never even watch Oprah so did not know about her endorsement). Thank you for your stories, and your artwork, altho just one teeny tiny criticism: your writings next to the drawings was too small for my old eyes to make out!
I love birds also (and bugs & frogs & actually the entire outside world); the day an owl deposited a pellet on our deck was an A+ day to me! Your thoughts on a variety of things (bird feeding, handrearing) were so interesting! Keep doing what you love, so I can read more!

Posted by Anonymous April 10, 2012 at 1:26 PM

I'm just catching up on posts that I missed and wanted to say a hearty congratulations! Great news about your book. It's on my wish list at amazon so I'm hoping to get it as a gift sometime soon!

Julie, I just found your website and blog, and I'm fascinated! I love both your painting and your writing. I, too, do both, and don't think there are very many of us out there. I paint wildlife, as well. Go figure. I've had books published, too. Go figure again. I know how hard it is, so Congratulations, and more power to you, Julie.

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