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Meet Trailblazer Dr. Laura Bush

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Laura Bush.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dr. Bush. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am an identical twin. My twin sister, Sarah, and I were born and raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English, then taught for five years as a full-time faculty member at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. From there, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I earned my doctoral degree in English from Arizona State University in May 2000. I focused my doctoral studies on American Autobiography and women’s life writing, publishing my groundbreaking book, “Faithful Transgressions in the American West: Six Twentieth-Century Mormon Women’s Autobiographical Acts” in May 2004 with Utah State University Press.

After over 20 years of teaching literature, composition, business writing, and professional development courses and workshops at ASU, I resigned in 2012 to reinvent myself as an entrepreneur and found Peacock Proud Press. I now work with entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches, and autobiographers to write and publish nonfiction books that transform the lives of authors and their readers. At Peacock Proud Press, I and my team are committed to working with people who want to write high quality, bestselling books that readers actually buy, read, and recommend.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve experienced many obstacles and challenges along my journey. At Ricks College, although I was hired because I was a highly qualified woman, at this church-owned school, my feminist scholarship and point of view were not always welcome. I was also a single woman teaching in a very family-oriented environment and often felt both invisible and highly visible because I often disagreed with prevailing points of view and did not have a husband or children (although I wanted both).

Earning a Ph.D. in English took me six years. Many other graduate students either dropped out or took seven to ten years to finish their PhDs. The subject matter of my dissertation, tracing the autobiographical writing patterns and “faithful transgressions” of Mormon women autobiographies written in the twentieth century, was both exciting and disillusioning. I had to face some difficult truths about my faith community’s past and present history. Eventually, I left because as a feminist scholar and a single woman, I no longer felt comfortable or happy in that environment. Leaving my religious community was a painful, difficult choice.

I published my book under less than ideal circumstances while working full-time at Arizona State University as an Instructional Professional, rather than as an Assistant Professor with time to write and publishing. I’m proud of that publication, but it was not easy. Although I did not have to resign from the university, I had a secure position with matching retirement and good health benefits. However, after years of no raises and no bonuses from 2008 to 2012 at a state-run university, I decided it was time to take care of me, rather than give my all to a huge, bureaucratic institution. I wanted to make a real difference in the world, and I wanted to be fairly compensated for my significant knowledge, skills, and experience.

I was naive, though, about what it would take to start my own business. Then, within a year of leaving a secure job with good health benefits, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (Stage I). After dealing with radiation and the anxiety of worrying about how to support myself financially (bring in more clients) while being treated for Cancer, I also ended up needing foot surgery the next year, and the third year of my business, I had to have knee replacement surgery. The first three years of my business took a lot of courage to keep going and not give up. The past three years of growth and seeing many of my first-time authors achieve their dreams, earn bestseller status, and high praise reviews, as well as remarkable opportunities from the publication of their books, has made all my work and sacrifice worth it.

My advice to young women would be to care about their financial well being from the very beginning. Don’t believe the lie that your career is only about following your heart and the money will follow. Make sure you are doing what you love and stand for being compensated for what you’re worth. Research and investigate possible career or job opportunities that will support you separate from any partner you might be counting on to help support your goals. Partners come and go. You must be self-sufficient, but you don’t have to do it alone, and you shouldn’t. Seek good career counseling in many different places. Consider becoming an entrepreneur. Interview and consult with other women who have “made it.” Gather allies and create a powerful network of men and women, young and old who will see you through the tough times. Follow other women’s and men’s lead and forge your own path. Don’t settle. Show gratitude to those women, feminists, and allies who have gone before you and made possibilities for you even greater.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Peacock Proud Press – what should we know?
We publish high quality, transformational books that make a REAL difference in the world. We care that the books we publish actually get bought, read, and recommended. We care that our authors are able to use their book to forward their business, coaching, or speaking career and opportunities. We care that autobiographers who are sharing their life story to help others write a quality book they can be “peacock proud” of. We have no interest in helping people write a book in a weekend. We actually believe that writing a quality book quickly is not possible. It’s a complex process that deserves an author’s time and commitment. The payoff is worthwhile but not for the weak at heart.

We are proud of the content and the design of our books. We are proud of their wide-ranging subject matter from palliative care to humor to sales and speaking to women following their passions to Kundalini. It doesn’t matter the nonfiction or creative nonfiction topic. It just matters that our authors are ready and willing to take on writing quality books that could take them one to two years to finish, publish, and market properly and professionally.

We are a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and follow their standards checklist for a professionally published book. We will not assist someone to self-publish just any book. It must meet our standards.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Build a community of support. Don’t go it alone. You don’t have to. Do your research. Care about being fairly compensated and learn how to network and negotiate. Find mentors, friends, teachers, and supporters who will advocate for you, be people you can bounce ideas off of and consult with. Be open to their advice and coaching. Then choose for yourself. There is no one way, no right way, or one path. Just choose with your eyes wide open. You’ll fail sometimes. You’ll succeed at other times. Keep going. Your happiness and well-being matter. You matter.

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4 Comments

  1. Joanne Hartley

    July 26, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Laura is a lifelong friend and I am so proud and truly inspired by her every day. I sit here with tears as she doesn’t know she is one of the reasons I took the leap from the corporate world to start to build my own business knowing the struggles that she was going through and thinking if Laura can do it, maybe I can too. Reading this article really puts it into perspective as I am just into year two and can tell you everything Laura speaks to is true. I am learning to find the right networking groups (Laura has even visited one of mine) as it helps bounce ideas off of each other and gets many of us away from the four walls of our home offices and speaking to others in our same shoes. I feel rejuvenated by reading this article to know that I should continue on my path as I know I am good at what I do and will get over that hill too. Thanks Laura, you’re an inspiration for many young and not so young women!

    • Laura Bush

      July 26, 2018 at 10:34 pm

      Thank you very much for letting me know I inspired you to start your business, Joanne! I didn’t know, but I do know that you are a fabulous person and extremely good at helping people with their travel plans. My trip this spring to Australia wouldn’t have been the same without your professional guidance and attention to every detail for me. You can do this!

  2. Mark Egan

    July 27, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    KUDOS! To VoyagePhoenix for identifying and spotlighting this most extraordinary author, teacher, mentor and community-builder, Dr. Laura L. Bush. I am most fortunate to have met Dr. Bush soon after publication of her first book, Faithful Transgressions, in 2004 – and have had the privilege of calling her a friend ever since.

    The article does a good job of highlighting some of the peaks and a few of the “valleys” she has successfully navigated. But a full account of the obstacles and trials Dr. Bush has encountered and overcome would take at least a complete book to adequately illuminate. Many of these would have been completely catastrophic to a less committed, determined individual. The thought of giving up may have seemed inviting (or even inevitable) at times, but she never lost sight of her dream of creating a powerful, successful and giving business and brand. Peacock Proud Publishing is a manifestation of her passion for sharing her abundant skills and talents with others – and helping them to do likewise.

    She may be tempted to “throw [a] book” at me for suggesting it, but hopefully Dr. Bush’s own autobiography will be available one day. Then even more people who are similarly passionate about doing things that matter and making a difference in the world may benefit and be inspired by her legacy of courage, resilience, commitment to one’s values and ideals, and personal integrity.

    I can unhesitatingly recommend Dr. Laura L. Bush, PhD., and Peacock Proud Press to anyone with a valuable story to tell and in need of some expert guidance and truly caring mentoring to “get it out there.” The experience would be well worth it, even if you didn’t publish a book. But if you are serious and truly want to get yours published – and are willing to make a sincere effort to see it to fruition – she will stand by you, and it will happen.

    That’s just the sort of person she is. And while I may be a bit biased in my opinions, I can stand by them confidently. Once you get acquainted with Dr. Bush, you will too.

    • Laura Bush, PhD

      August 9, 2018 at 5:36 am

      Thanks very much for your high praise and your friendship, Mark. It means a lot. And some day, I will write my autobiography. And you’ll be one of the great friends and supporters in my life story.

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