Mother Run: Margie K.P. Fudge
Have you ever heard someone say that their grand idea came to them in a dream? That’s exactly what happened to Margie K.P. Fudge. Before the pregnancy dream that helped her find her way to becoming a self published children’s book author (her book, Being Nice is Magical, came out in May 2018), Margie was “a college dropout just working full time, mostly in retail, and trying to be a person.” “I wrote an immense amount of poetry and I’d give a reading here or there when the courage stuck me,” she remembers. “I’d work on pieces of novels or screenplays, but I never finished them. I’d get too tired or busy--or, admittedly, when I was younger, I’d just stop and go hang out with friends or something. I was just kind of going through life completely confused and living very day-to-day.”
To Margie, being a mother and being a business owner are intricately connected. “The idea of being an entrepreneur was always in the back of my mind for as long as I can remember,” she says. “I’ve always had this drive to build something of my own that I could eventually leave as a legacy, but I never knew how to go about it or figured I didn’t have what it took to do it. Once I became pregnant with my son, however, the idea of being a business owner moved at lightning speed from the back of my mind to the forefront. There wasn’t an option anymore. Once I delivered him, I had to go back to work full-time at only 6 weeks postpartum. It destroyed me. I was battling postpartum depression, my baby wasn’t sleeping through the night yet, so I’d come to work on a half hour of sleep, perform really badly at my job as a result, and they were constantly threatening to fire me. I’d cry all of the time because each day, I was missing out on precious time with my firstborn child to make money for a company that was constantly reminding me that I was replaceable. Quitting to stay home with him wasn’t an option, either. Finally, I reached my breaking point and decided to not only write the book, but grow it so largely that the book, as well as my name as an author, has its own brand. I want many more children, and I was (and still am) determined to never, ever be in that position again, so this was truly a do-or-die situation. I only get one life. I’m not going to limit what I want to do in this life because I have to go to work for someone else when there are ways around it.”
Her son, Titus Love, is two and a half but her journey to publishing began when she was only five week pregnant. “I had a super vibrant pregnant lady dream (yessss, you know the kind that I’m talking about!) about writing a children’s book about a little boy who does nice things out of the goodness of his heart and eventually turned into a wizard,” she explains. “Even his name, Claude, came to me in the dream. When I woke up the next morning, it was go time. Literally.” Though the idea may have come to her in her sleep, she still had a long road ahead of her to bring that dream into reality. “While the dream I had was the thing that lit the fire in me and gave me most of the ideas, it didn’t give me all of the details,” Margie says. “I decided to specifically make this book diverse because as the mother of a Black child, I realized that diverse books are dire. While children’s books are getting much better with diversity in the past few years, they have a long way to go, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted my son and others just like him to be able to open a book and think, ‘Hey, This kid looks like me!’ and find happiness there. With my partner being a Black father, I have witnessed first hand a lot of the discredit and disrespect he’s gotten--even just the looks he gets when he’s out with our son. It’s hurtful. I could really go on an entire social rant here, but I’ll leave it at this: fathers in general, and Black fathers especially, deserve a lot more credit, love, and recognition than they’re currently getting.”
In addition to creating a diverse character, her book is also aimed at kids on the autism spectrum. “The context of the text doesn’t change at all--just the presentation of the text,” Margie explains. “I’ve learned so much about autism in children during my time spent pursuing a clinical psych degree, and the reality of it is: many children on the spectrum can understand the same exact things that any other child can--they just need different tools sometimes. I had learned about the visual literacy technique that I used in Being Nice is Magical in school, and after researching it much more extensively, decided to apply to my book. It was honestly fun deciding which text styles and new colors to use for the emphatic words.”
Bringing her book to life was a long undertaking. “Initially, I spent weeks researching the entire process,” she shares. “As most entrepreneurs can probably attest to, you can read all of the articles you want about how business goes, but until you truly dive in with full faith in what you’re doing, you can’t truly know how it’s going to go. The one thing I will say, though, is that the more you get into the field, the more people you surround yourself with who are doing similar things, before you know it, you’re kind of just taking all the necessary steps without having to research it just from being around it so much.” After she spent time researching and learning, the real work began. “Well, first, I had to sit down and write the manuscript, that was the best part,” Margie begins. “I had written a lot of adult-reading-level novels and short stories before, so the first draft read like that. I didn’t intend for it to. It just came out that way out of mindless habit. It was actually hilarious because I gave it to my partner, Titus, to read and he was like, ‘isn’t this supposed to be a children’s book?’ and I was like ‘Oh. Yeah. Whoops!’ So, I had to go back and rewrite it in the way a seven year old would be able to understand. I had to employ our niece who was 6 at the time by asking her ‘what would you say in this situation?’ and things like that. Then came the reading, re-reading 800 times, and editing. I knew what I was writing was good stuff, but re-reading it is like hearing yourself speak on a recording. I’d cringe in that odd fear and self-loathing every time just because I could hear myself speak through my manuscript--if that makes sense. It helped to hand it off to everyone I knew and have them give me feedback, though. Most of the feedback was very useful and nice and that helped me get over that silly feeling. Had I not passed the manuscript around, I don’t know that I’d have ever got over that. After I knew the manuscript was totally solid, I found an illustrator. Titus had recommended an artist that he knew already from being a part of the art and music scene in Detroit--Sade Robinson. She had previously had her art on display at the Baltimore Gallery, so needless to say, she was legit and on top of that, I loved her work. Ironically enough, a few weeks later, I was at a dinner event in Detroit for the musician Jaye Prime where Sade was seated across from us at the table. I introduced myself, told her about my manuscript and asked her if she would illustrate the book. She was immediately about it. A few days later, she drew up a contract and she was ready to go. I told her what I needed the illustrations showing, what needed to correspond with each page, etc. I gave her descriptions of what I needed, but she had a lot of complete reign on creativity, and trusting her judgement on it took the book further than I ever dreamed of. After lots of questions and patience on both ends, in a little less than a year, we had a complete and illustrated book. After that, the hard part truly began, and I, in no way, was prepared for it. Self-publishing has lots of very particular sizing guidelines (that I was previously unaware of) and Titus and I stayed up many, many nights trying to get the page sizes right. Getting the website up and running was equally as tedious of a process. Initial investment costs were expensive. Many days, it felt like it wasn’t going to work out. Marketing was difficult with no printed book produced yet, it was hard making ends meet with bills and now book expenses. I cried a lot. I began grinding my teeth at night. My diet suffered because I’d literally come home late from my day job, get my son to bed, and because I didn’t want to waste any time (or simply out of exhaustion and stress), I’d just eat frozen pizza or eat Taco Bell for the fifth time in a week. I was breaking out a lot more. I was angry a lot just as a result of anxiety. That part was dreadful. But within a month and a half, we got it worked out, and a lot actually came together in it’s own time. Finally, the book was ready for printing and distribution. But I’ll tell you--that was the longest month and a half of my entire life to date. You know that face that all the new moms have in the photo when they’re holding their new baby right after delivering? After everything was said and done, it all felt like that face. Exhausted, proud, in love, terrified, and certain somehow, all rolled into one.”
If you think writing and self publishing a book sounds daunting, imagine doing it while also trying to spend quality time with your family, going to school, and working a full time job. “I’m in the stage where the balance is very small and very scheduled,” Margie says. “It’s a wild understatement to say that it’s incredibly difficult to juggle still having a day job, finishing up my degree, being a mother, and being a person, too. In the morning, a lot of times I have to be at work before my son even wakes up. Some days, I do get to wake him up and get him breakfast and so on, but with that comes the vehement ‘NO GO TO WORK, MAMA!’ protest. Any mom can relate when I say that part hurts me more than him. We have a lot of ‘I know mommy is working a lot, but mommy is working so hard right now so she can be home with you all the time very very soon’ discussions. I facetime with him, a lot of photos are sent back and forth, and when I come home in the evening, it’s just quality time with him and his dad before it’s his bedtime. If I get home really late, like 8 or 9 o clock, if my son isn’t already asleep, sometimes I keep him up a little later just to see him for a bit. I try to make every moment with him so special. Once he’s in bed, though, the work on all things book related begins and I repeat that same process all week long. I have to schedule entire days off of everything to keep sane, and it’s usually Sundays. Some Sundays we just lounge around and play all day, and others, we visit museums or the park or some other fun place--but no matter what, I always keep my time with my son as qualitative as possible. It’s never easy, but it’s getting easier. I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labor ripen. My biggest struggle? Patience. I can see that everything is growing in the right direction, but it’s hard to keep pushing through until it gets as large as I know it will be. People tell me that all of the waiting I’ve had to do for various things is supposed to teach me lessons in patience, but if I’m being honest--all it does is stress me out.”
Though Being Nice is Magical was born from a dream, Margie was a writer long before. “I’ve been writing since I’ve been eight years old,” she shares. “I even used to participate in all of the Young Authors events in grade school. My first ‘book’ was called Bug Mud. I illustrated it myself--it’s just these pieces of paper stapled together with Crayola marker pictures and my wobbly handwriting as the text. It’s silly. It was about bugs who were stuck in the mud. My mother had books on tops of books on top of BOOKS of poetry that would write and keep for herself and I probably internalized that somewhere. It sounds cliche, but I speak the truth when I say that writing has always been something that I’ve done just the same as tying shoes or washing my hands.” Before she delved into children’s books, she covered quite a few other genres. “When I began writing seriously, I started off creating transgressional fiction pieces,” she says. “I loved the idea of the main character finding new and crazy ways to try and change the cards they were dealt. Being insurgent is something that always engaged me, and to find an entire genre of literature that catered to that had me flying over the moon. I wrote a few unfinished novels and even some screenplays in that genre. Eventually, that evolved into a lot of horror writing. A lot of people have asked ‘how do you even think of horror pieces to write? Like, are you okay in the head?’ The answer is absolutely and even more so for writing horror. I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, and writing about scary things that I know are fake and controlled by me, the writer, is a way of coping in a symbolic way. It keeps me grounded during the days that are extra anxious. My favorite piece? Probably the one that was published in Vine Leaves Literary Journal. It was a vignette about a demon escaping someone’s body in a very detailed, bloody fashion and then ended with the demon finally escaping, left to be walking the earth. It was so significant because I was battling postpartum depression at the time, and that’s how I envisioned it as I healed. It was painful, mentally gory work. It petrified me almost all of the time--but after really going through the ringer with it, it finally left me and I have been restored more than I ever knew I could be.”
As she comes out of 2018 with her first self published children’s book put out into the world, her future is bright. While Being Nice is Magical focused on niceness, she has plans to expand it into a series. “The second book is focusing on the magic of being patient,” Margie says. “After that, we’ll focus on being honest, having empathy, displaying manners, having integrity...the list goes on and on!” Putting out more books isn’t the only thing on her list of goals for the upcoming year. “Aside from getting another book or two and some merch out, I definitely want to be part of more author events and book expos,” she says. “I love interacting with my magical little readers and their parents and hearing all of their feedback. I love getting the chance to answer questions, or even ask my readers questions about what they enjoyed about the book, what they would like to see next. Overall, though, the end goal for 2019 is to be able to be completely full time with being an author and not have to have a day job anymore. And mark me on this--it’s going to happen.”
As she reaches towards that end goal of writing full time, there have been, and will be more, hard days. So what keeps her going? “It’s a combination of a lot of things,” she explains. “I try to listen to a lot of ultra-inspiring music. It’s been a lot of super motivational hip hop and cozy nostalgia music from the 90s that I grew up with. My partner, Titus, is also a huge driving force. He just listens, understands, and helps in any way that he can. He’s the most supportive person I’ve ever met. He works on all of the graphics you see on margiekpfudge.com or the flyers, and that man is tireless. He’s constantly pushing me to be my best self--the person he sees in his eyes. Even after all of these years together, it still feels like a new light to be seen in. It makes me feel giddy. He also cooks mean vegan food that soothes the tortured soul. He’s such a great dad, too, so when I’m working a lot, I know that our son is still being nurtured the way he needs to be when he’s with his dad. Finally, as the cornerstone of everything is my son. He wakes up asking to read mama’s book. He tells me he’s ‘going to the store to get mama’s book.’ My book is only in one store for now, but his little exclamations are enough to bring me to happy tears. He’s counting on me too much now to let him down, so quitting or giving up is never an option no matter how stressed I may get.
In all honesty, when it gets really bad, I just try to remember these good moments. I vent a lot. I allow myself to experience the anger that arises sometimes at the time and money constraints. I allow myself to feel all of the emotions. I do the ol’ drive-n-cry sometimes. It’s always best to acknowledge our emotions.” Though her little family is amazingly supportive, she also has dealt with those who aren’t so encouraging. “I run into this a lot,” she says. “Far more often than I could have ever imagined and from a lot of people I never thought I’d hear it from. It’s going to sound silly, but I’ve never been hurt by it. Only confused. In any regard, it only gives me fuel. For each person that doubts me, I turn up the push on what I’m doing by 200. I thrive off of proving people wrong.” Keeping those who doubt her to the back of her mind and focusing on those that show support is the key to not getting weighed down by negativity. “My overall mood has been that of gratitude,” she shares. “I never imagined my career as an author to be taking off the way that it is, and to each and every one of you reading this--I thank you for taking the time to do so. I thank every single person who has bought a copy of the book, attended one of my book events, enabled me to be a part of a book event, or even just gave my posts on social media a like or share. That is so invaluable to me, and this dream of mine that I’m literally giving my ALL to exhibit wouldn’t even be possible were it not for folks like you.”
So what advice does she have for other mothers looking to start something of their own? “Acknowledge that it will be time, money, and sanity being poured into it,” Margie says. “It will get hard. You’ll have days that you’d rather just give up because it may feel easier-but you must continue on. Take solace in knowing that there are others in your exact situation. It’s normal to lose sleep. It’s normal to lose friends. People get resentful sometimes--try to lift them up if you can, and don’t take their bitterness personal. It’s normal to lose faith in ourselves sometimes, but keep it at a minimum. Allow yourself to feel and express your feelings, but do so tactfully, quietly, and in sophistication. Emotional self expression can be done in these ways. When you run a business, even that one crazy tweet while you’re in your feelings can ruin your entire market. Do your best to think forward as much as possible and at all times. Above all, the outcome will outweigh all of this. Believe in it and it will be so.”
What does success mean to you?
“Success is certainly a multi-faceted concept and probably has different meanings for everyone, but to me, personally: I’ll know that I’ve become successful when I can continue to have children without worrying about going back to work for someone else and it doesn’t cause any financial strain. I don’t care about making millions or living lavishly--I just want to create enough successful books to be able to live comfortably. By that, I mean, I want to make enough for my children’s future, our retirement, getting a new house built, and enough to be able to go out and celebrate with a nice dinner when the hard work pays off. I want to generate enough income from my books and publishing house that I won’t ever have to worry about bills or groceries ever again.”
What’s on your business bucket list?
"-Acquiring my own book-printing machine
-Owning an actual building for my own publishing house
-Create 20+ books
-The New York Times Bestseller List.
-Also, having a drink with author Bunmi Laditan.”
Connect with Margie:
On the web