Background Switcher (Hidden)

The Bluebird Effect Arrives!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

 Friday, January 13 was a LUCKY DAY for us at Indigo  Hill. A very special box arrived via a hollow-eyed UPS deliveryman who had fought his way over the newly poured skating rink that is our road and driveway. (He left two other boxes with us, meant for neighbors further down our road, not wanting to push his luck).

Chet Baker was immediately intrigued and offered, in his own helpful and forthright way, to open the box for me. It was a continuation of Christmas as far as Chet was concerned. He got very good at chewing open boxes at Christmastime.

 You do not need an X-acto knife, Mether. I have my teefs.

 When his teeth failed to cut the tape, he began a rapid digging motion that sooner or later would have hit pay dirt.

Luckily Bill of the Birds had my camera set to video. Chet's attention is a bit divided between the mystery box and a stack of strawberry pancakes on the kitchen table. It was a snow day and the kids were enjoying their second round. Cute doggeh vid alert! Oh noes!

Inside the box were the first two copies of my new book,

  The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds.  

Yep, that says "Foreword by Scott Weidensaul." Squeeee! Scott has a brand new book , The First Frontier, coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (yaaaay!)  at the same time!

My editor, Lisa White, explained that while these two copies of The Bluebird Effect were sent by air from the overseas printer, the rest are probably on a container ship (imagine!) making a slow crossing of the Pacific Ocean, and from landfall on the West Coast being borne by truck to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's warehouses. Release date (shipment from the warehouse) is February 20, which will translate into early March availability and shipment from my studio. So close! the time will fly. I've been busy taking pre-orders and I expect that to only pick up as the time gets nearer. I gotta say, the cash flow is much needed and welcome. Thank you!

I absolutely couldn't believe I was holding it in my hands. But the weight of it is very real--just an ounce short of TWO AND A HALF POUNDS of brand new book. And an inch thick, which doesn't sound all that thick, but it is a brick in the hands.

You most def would want to avoid dropping it on your foot. That would hurt, and perhaps bust something.

It has the most delicious sweet-corn yellow pebbly cloth-covered boards, spring green endpapers, a strong tight cloth binding, and an engraved spine. It has a dust cover that feels like textured watercolor paper.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pulled out every last stop to make this book exceed even my extravagant vision for it. And I am deeply grateful for that. Amazed and grateful, and awestruck. Thank you Lisa White, thank you designer Melissa Lotfy, and thank you Martha Kennedy, cover designer extraordinaire. Against their better judgement, they let me get up to my elbows and scrubble around in the design pot and for that, too, I am very grateful.

Melissa Lotfy's design is fun-loving and lavish, giving the hundreds of bits of artwork lots of space and room to breathe.

In creating the illustrations, I wrote my notes by hand, but nice and big so they could be read. (I've heard from people who had to take a magnifying glass to Letters from Eden to read my notes. Sorry about that...I hadn't known they would go into a book when I made them).

Lookit that osprey diving through the text! Sploosh!! This is a full-sheet watercolor painting, 30" high and it reduced down to a crystalline-perfect image. I page through the book with my mouth hanging open each time.

Piping plovers skitter over the sand, running from a wave. Honestly, the watercolors look like they were painted right on the pages. The paper is beee-yoo-ti-ful, too.

I think my favorite paintings are the ones with active brush strokes and feathered washes. I knew those would probably work best for the book, so I laid on those watercolory effects. And work they do, giving the illustrations a life of their own. Some of the birds look like they're flying right off the page, they're so crisp and clean.

Somehow, Houghton handled my pencil drawings so as to capture every stray line and nuance. Gorgeous. It's a picture book; it's an art book,  310 illustrations with 80,000 words of explanation. It's a memoir about my life with birds, injured, orphaned, endangered, or otherwise in my care.

Most of the sketches were done directly from living birds, so there's springy life, an uncomplicated essence and motion, in the drawings that studio drawings lack.

There are some little departures, like this story of an injured white-throated sparrow that turned into a kind of prose poem. 

And some treasured mementos, like this hurried memory painting of a leucistic turkey vulture that flew right over our house--and that I saw again near Woodsfield, Ohio, a year later. There is a great deal of  magic in turkey vultures. I explain in this chapter how the turkey vulture came to be my totem bird. So it's not all Science Chimp stuff--there's plenty of romance, too.

Bill and I oohed and ahhed and reveled. Bill said, "I've never seen a better printing job on any book." Coming from an editor and author of dozens of books, that's high praise. I concur. And I'm picky to a fault. Just ask Lisa, Martha and Melissa!

Our kitchen, stopped in mid-griddle on a snowy, strawberry-pancake, no school, very lucky Friday the 13th. Daughter Phoebe Linnea taking these photos of us. Thanks, Phoebs.

Yes, it's finally here.  And it is more substantial, and jaw-droppingly lavish than I ever dreamt. It's going to make the most beautiful gift book!

Well, two copies are here. The rest, dodging winter seaspray somewhere on the Pacific, rocking along on a slow boat from China. But they'll be at the warehouse before you know it! And I'll order a whole mess of them to inscribe to the recipient and send out from my little studio. I've converted sweet Charlie's aviary into a framing station/shipping depot. I can feel her loving, lonely spirit every time I walk into that room.

You can click HERE to pre-order The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds. And if you wish to add  Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, In the Woods or Backyard Birding: Using Natural Gardening to Attract Birds, the same link works, too. There are clickable banner ads in the right sidebar of this blog, too.

 I've got boxes that will hold one, two or all three. And if you want more, I can do that, too. Ima be a busy squirtle come March!  Be sure to tell me to whom you'd like them inscribed.

Can I get a Wooo--Hoooo?!!


WOO-HOO!!! That must be the best feeling--almost as good as holding that snuffly newborn baby.

Congratulations. I can't wait to see it!

Awwww... this made me smile broadly and remember when I first held my inscribed copy of Letters from Eden. Can't WAIT to hold this one! Congratulations sweet friend!

Oh Julie, that's so exciting. If you're that thrilled with the book, I know I will be overwhelmed by its beauty when my copy finally arrives in the mailbox. It will probably be just the perfect thing to brighten a mid-March Minnesota day......

Congrats and a big WOO-HOO! I love your writing and can't wait to see it!


It's gorgeous, even through a computer. Can't wait to get one in hand.

Congratulations (to the whole team) on a job beautifully done!!!

This comment has been removed by the author.

Very, very cool! An Athens autograph party is in order. And soon!

Congrats! Chet Baker was very helpful opening the precious cargo. The book looks stunning. May you sell a gazillion!

So great. I do say that with a slight green tinge. I look forward to buying one. As usual, your paintings look beautiful.

Big congrats! I remember the feeling when "Lessons from Amazonia" was first in my hands. Special.


Your smile says it all.

Good for you!


This whole post made me cry happy tears. I'll come back and really read it when I dry up. xoxo

Can't wait to have that book in my hands.


Chet, you made my afternoon at work--pancakes, box, pancakes, box??

CONGRATS!!!! As I've said before, I know what I'm getting everyone in my family for Christmas this year!!! Get those hand muscles limbered up...

Julie-- It is beautiful, wondrous, superlatives fail me. A big hug of congratulations! Pat that fat Chet tummy for me...

Posted by Charles Alexander January 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM

High-fives (or paws) all around!... and pass the syrup and strawberry pancakes while you're at it

Congratulations, Julie! I am taking a writing course and can only imagine how happy you must be after all of the love and time and talent that you poured into yours. I'll have to get one for my collection!

Working on my list of lucky people who'll receive this from me...

You look so very very happy, Julie... I'm happy just thinking of you and your new book.

Congratulations to all involved!

Congratulations! Will order some soon!

Can you handle cash and carry?

What a gorgeous looking book, Julie. I can't wait to have it!!

And what a cozy looking Snow Day morning. How nice that your book arrived today, when everyone was home to share with you.

Awe, right?

Wooo--Hoooo!!! Can't wait to read it!!!

I teared up a bit thinking of your Charlie proudly watching you. Congratulations.

WOOOO...HOOO for sure. Can hardly wait til it's here.

WOO HOO!!!! indeed. I can't imagine what it feels like to see the finished product for the first time! Awesome video. Pure joy! Congrats!!!!

Woo hoo! A beautiful book!

Wooo hooo and a yabba dabba dooo. Can't wait to have in in my paws. How exciting. Congrats.

Congratulations ... Woo-Hoo! Great title and the art work is beautiful. What a wonderful way to start off the new year ... so thrilled for you.


WOOO-HOOO is right! What a great day that January 13 turned out to be. What a brave, brave ups guy you have. Charlie must have given him wings to fly over that icy drive.

Thanks to Bill and the Crew for making the video of the moment. It is priceless!

Kathy Walters
Delray Beach, FL

Posted by Anonymous January 14, 2012 at 6:27 AM

Hearty congratulations! What an accomplishment!

Many WOO-HOOs coming from California to you! Congratulations!

Wow!!!! Absolutely GORGEOUS!

I'm celebrating the beautiful symmetry of life and the creative process: last January you toiled over these luscious works and this January again the same storyline for new work enthralls us.

While for now all we can do is offer support and loving attention to what is emerging.

But after this winter, we get to tear into our own pre-orders and share in the feast of what comes from living life fully and deeply aware.

Woo-Hoo and Thanks times Big Numbers!

Leslie Y.

Posted by Anonymous January 14, 2012 at 9:27 AM

WOO HOO!! Congratulations! It looks beautiful! Going to pre-order mine and one for a present now.

The look on Chet's face is hilarious!
Can't wait to order a copy for me, and one for my Mom. She's going to be so surprised!
Deb G.

Posted by Anonymous January 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

This is my all-time favorite post of yours. Congratulations on your beautiful book! And thank you for sharing your many versions of joy.

Posted by Kate Foreman January 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Chet is soooo helpful! Your book is absolutely gorgeous! I'm saving up for it. I want a copy of my own, but am going to ask my library to request it, too. It's absolutely beautiful. What a wonderful feeling that must be to hold it in your hands. Congratulations!

While I am in awe, and practically bereft of suitable words, at the very least, I must say -- CONGRATULATIONS.

Wondrous indeed! Congratulations fly to you for another California reader. I can hear those birds singing from here.

Oh my land, that book is GORGEOUS.

There is nothing as indescribable as the feeling of seeing and holding your own book, smelling that sweet ink scent, rubbing the paper between your fingers, and recognizing your heart and soul in print. Wooooo-Hooooo indeed! Can't wait to get my copy, and I hope that cash flow turns into a torrent for you.

What a beautiful book! You are such a talented lady. Congratulations!


WOO HOO indeed! You're so cool.

This is so, so awesome. Must get one book for me and one for... some relative or other, I think. A relative who is totally not my sister with the pug, in case she is reading this. Totally not her. Nope. Also: this is such an incredibly wonderful blog post! Wooo-ossumundo-hooooo...!!!

Congratulations! Something to put on my birthday list this year.

Posted by Anonymous January 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Congratulations Julie! I was just thinking about you and your book the other day, wondering where it was at. Looks beautiful

So exciting. Can't wait to get it in my own hands!

[Back to Top]