From Silent to Speaking: Josha’s Focus on Survivor Stories

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and at Josha, it’s a month that holds significant meaning to us—both because of book anniversaries and new releases, and because of what survivors’ voices mean to us.

Our first book, Finding Annie by Katherine Turner,was released on April 10, 2020. In April of 2022, its sequel, Willow Wishes, was released. In just nine days, the third book in the series, Wildflower Promise, will hit shelves worldwide. As the author has shared, she wanted to write a story she wanted to read…one in which she recognized herself and her healing. She was confident that there were other readers—other survivors—like her in the world, and so the Life Imperfect Series was conceptualized. Written as autobiographical fiction, the Life Imperfect series tells the story of Annie Turner, who is a survivor of rape. Just like Katherine.

And while the Life Imperfect series is certainly one that will always hold a special place in our hearts for many reasons, the truth is, every book we release does because there are a few things every book we publish has in common.

Does that mean our goal is that all of our books feature sexual violence and the survivor’s healing journey? No. But as of the time of this post’s writing, every single one of our published books do include aspects of sexual and/or domestic violence and healing, whether fiction or memoir. And as one of Josha’s authors as well as in my position here as our acquisitions editor, there is a certain power that I believe Josha has on every page we publish.

The power to heal.

Finding Annie, book one of the Life Imperfect Series, was the book that brought me into contact with Katherine Turner, ultimately leading me to my dream job here at Josha. But Finding Annie was more than a mere career opportunity for me; as I edited it, memories and emotions—trauma—I’d long repressed forced its way to the surface and the healing journey I’d been considering embarking on for some time no longer gave me a choice. Thanks to Katherine’s impeccable prose, I started healing. (But more about all that later.)

Willow Wishes, the next book in the series, was released on April 10, 2021 (seeing a pattern yet?). As her story continues to unfold, Annie’s struggle to believe in a future filled with promise reveals the fault lines that follow us in the wake of trauma as well as the courage it takes to choose a different path. In many ways, Willow Wishes is a turning point in Annie’s healing journey…and one that I, as a survivor, can relate to in my own romantic relationship.

Then, in just ten days, the next installment of the Life Imperfect Series will be released: Wildflower Promise. If Finding Annie helped heal me as a survivor of sexual trauma, Wildflower Promise has certainly helped me heal many of my generational wounds as it pertains to motherhood. A gripping and poignant tale of overcoming our deepest fears and finding joy in unexpected places, Wildflower Promise depicts an evolution in Annie’s life and thus her healing journey, and it’s one I promise you don’t want to miss—especially if you’re the daughter of a survivor or a survivor who is raising kids, like I am.

And in the realm of upcoming releases, Katherine Turner has written another book, which will be released on June 23, 2023: Madly Deeply Wildly.

One of our other editors, Kayli Baker, adores Madly Deeply Wildly. When I asked her why, she said, “Delicious food, the romance between chef and writer, and the depiction of a woman who is finding herself and learning she’s capable of standing on her own two feet…it all hits home for me. Madly Deeply Wildly sparks the senses, and it gives me encouragement to keep working on my own journey to self-reliance and hope for a future healthy relationship. It also fuels my desire to make and experience amazing food, which is a passion of mine.”

And all of that is just our current fiction.

Once again leading the way for Josha, Katherine Turner is also the author of our first nonfiction book, moments of extraordinary courage. As the tagline for the book says, “All of life is comprised of moments that fill us with happiness or sadness, fear or confidence, pain or joy. These moments collectively form the foundation—the stories—that shape our lives.” And that’s certainly what moments of extraordinary courage depicts for readers; it’s a collection of stories from Katherine’s life in which she had to decide whether she was going to speak up, either for herself or others, and how she found the courage to do so. Described by readers as inspirational, moments of extraordinary courage encourages us “to act together for a safer and more compassionate society.”

It was in editing moments of extraordinary courage that my life took a turn, just as it did whilst I read Finding Annie. And just as happened nearly two years prior, it was a beautiful, transformative turn.

When I reached the chapter “#metoo” in moments of extraordinary courage, I had to stop midway through it. Katherine writes how, in 2017 during the peak of the #MeToo Movement, she read story after story online, as well as the responses the posters had received.

“I remember reading about people who were skeptical about all the #MeToo stories, even some people I knew were less than enthusiastic, from thinking women were making things up for attention to settling personal vendettas to trying to get rich. There were others I knew—primarily in older generations—who didn’t indicate one way or the other whether they believed these women but simply felt it was airing one’s dirty laundry, sharing something you should want to keep a secret. Whenever I listened to these people, I became angry. Sometimes I argued, but often I was paralyzed by anger and fear of confrontation, and I wasn’t sure how to persuade them to be more open-minded without telling my own secrets.”

Katherine Turner

Encouraged by her testimony, I found myself rushing for a notebook, penning six pages that detailed my experiences of sexual violence. Before I knew what had happened, I’d scanned those pages and emailed them to her; less than an hour later, she’d replied, praising my courage to speak up and urging me to keep writing. Her courage sparked my own, ushering me out of silence and darkness and into the light, helping me find my voice…all because she dared to use hers.

Through Katherine’s mentorship, those six handwritten pages evolved into my first book, Me, Too: Voicing My Story, which Josha published in January of 2022. Hailed as “raw, compassionate, and self-reflective,” Me, Too is both a memoir and a commentary on how sexual violence is so prolific in our current culture.

Of course, when it comes to books with titles like Me, Too, it seems obvious that the story within is going to be a survivor’s testimony. But there’s another book Josha published that embodies so much of what it means to be a survivor, too: resilient by Katherine Turner.

resilient details the first twenty years of Katherine’s life. Her story—and the brutally-honest manner in which she tells it—comforts readers with the reassurance that they aren’t alone.

In my professional opinion—as well as my opinion as a survivor—resilient is the book loved ones and survivors of loved ones alike need to read. For loved ones, resilient describes so clearly what it’s like to survive trauma, and for survivors, it tells us that we can, in fact, survive, and we can always begin again.

When I started writing this blog post, I thought about talking about Josha’s values as they pertain to survivor stories. How our goal is to help authors tell their stories in all their glorious imperfection, rather than structured in a way that’s perhaps more palatable than life oftentimes actually is. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be better to instead talk about the types of stories Josha has published and let our readers see for themselves, starting with the way the books we’ve publishing have impacted us? After all, editors are a book’s first readers…and publishers are a book’s first fans.

My hope is that, through each book’s description and the endorsements from our readers and editors alike, you can see that we find our publishing pride in the integrity with which we approach each manuscript, our passion for telling the stories we ourselves have longed to read for years, and with a primary purpose in mind: to change lives through the written word. As a publisher, our mission to disrupt the literary status quo and change the world, one book at a time. And as the people—survivors—who are working to build this company book by book, our promise is that survivors will always have a voice…and that they will never stand alone.

Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about booksstories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions update.

From Silent to Speaking:
Josha’s Focus on Survivor Stories