Judy Fleagle graduated from college with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in English. She made good use of them by spending 22 years teaching first and second grades in Los Gatos, California, and 21 years as editor/staff writer for Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
After retiring in 2009, Judy embarked on a third career as an author. She wrote Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges (2011) and The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans (2013). It took her a year working all day every day to write Crossings. It is the book she is most proud of. The Crossings Guide took much less time because the info was already in her head. Because of her years at Oregon Coast magazine, she knew some of the best coastal photographers and was able to obtain the photos she wanted for the Guide. Due to the popularity of these two bridge books, she began doing PowerPoint presentations about the bridges. Before long, she became known as “The Bridge Lady of the Oregon Coast.” By the end of 2019, she had done about 50 presentations on the bridges. Each presentation has many photos from the books.
Around Florence (2014) is Judy’s only book not published in Florence. It is by Arcadia Publishing. When Arcadia Publishing called a local bookstore owner asking who might be able to write the history of Florence, the bookstore owner thought of Judy and called her. Because Judy had lived in the area a long time, was a docent at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, and knew the old-timers, she was the logical choice. Besides, she was a writer. Of the 184 photos in the book, 150 are from the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. She has 20-, 30-, and 40-minute PowerPoint presentations that she has done about this book with many photos from the book.
The only book that is personal is Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known (2015). It is about rescue animals that became great pets––eventually. Of the five stories in the book, two are the first stories Judy ever wrote. So this book is precious to her. One of the ways she markets this book is by doing animal shelter fund-raisers. They are a win-win situation. Judy also went to the Bay Area in California to a do a PowerPoint presentation because it was the setting for two of the book’s stories.
A fifth book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED that which is odd, unusual or quirky!!! came out in December 2018 and within the first year sold 935 books. It became her bestseller for 2019. The public likes the odd, unusual, and quirky. During the author’s 21 years at Oregon Coast magazine, these were the places that had something so totally unexpected about them, she simply had to write about them. It took about a year and a half to research, write, and factcheck the 26 stories. Then it took another five months to take or acquire the 85 photos in the book.
A sixth book The Cancer Blog, For those who have had cancer and those who have not is coming out in July 2021. The core of the book is the cancer posts––16 posted between September 30, 2014, and April 1, 2015––that chronicled her journey through chemo. Several of these were shared with others diagnosed with cancer, and she was often told that she should put them into a book. Six years after writing them, she re-read them and agreed. She edited and beefed up each post and added an introduction, an epilogue called “The Importance of Hair” that covers one year of recuperation after ending chemo, and a section about all the help that is available to cancer patients.
In 2011, Judy and children’s book author Connie Bradley co-founded the Florence Festival of Books held each year in late September. This event provides a venue for writers and publishers to get their books in front of the public. The last few years have had about 80 authors and 10 publishers participating in the book fair portion of the Festival on Saturday. The Festival was not able to take place in 2020, due to the pandemic, but it is scheduled for September 17-18 in 2021. Judy, as co-chair, is still very much involved.
Since 2002, Judy has been a docent at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum.
She started the blog in 2011 to help market Crossings when it first came out. The first 152 posts chronicled her adventures with her books. That all changed in the fall and winter of 2014-15, Judy faced late-stage lymphoma, and her posts became adventures with her health. Then in the spring of 2015, the Bridge Lady was back.
Through her blog, Judy has chronicled the writing of each of her last four books. And between book postings, she has included adventures with life in general. She became very busy writing and marketing her books throughout 2018 and 2019 as well as working as a co-op member owner at Backstreet Gallery, and volunteering at the Museum and posted in her blog much less. In the spring of 2020, with the down time caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, she has returned to posting every Friday. Her blog posts have evolved in lockstep with her life.
This Florence-based author has lived in the Florence area since 1985 and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.