Women warriors lead troops to battle and wear cool outfits; usually something steel coated and carry their weapons with conviction. She typically does not appear in a cream sweater set with glasses, bangs, and brown hair past her shoulders. But, author, mother, and psychometrist Joy Shepherd is a warrior with her air of innocence and warm smile-her armor is her life experience and her moxy is her weapon. About a half hour into our interview, she tells me, “nobody messes with my children.”. And you know what, I liked her-a lot. As a native of New Jersey, I appreciate Shepherd’s no-nonsenseattitude, down-to- earth personality and who I’d describe as a “straight shooter.”
Shepherd tackles tough topics in the children’s books she authors including dementia, sexual assault,death of a pet and coming out during childhood. Each book is beautifully written, illustrated and easy toread. I read “Grandma Doesn’t Know My Name” which explains the effects of dementia on thegrandparent and grandchild relationship. “The Monster In My Room” tackles Shepherd’s own story of sexual assault and encourages children who are victimized to speak up. Each book has a Note to Parentsfrom an expert on the book’s topic that include practical advise and statistics.
But her writing doesn’t stop at two books; there are two more books in the works dealing with childhood issues. Shepherd is frequently approached at book signings by readers who relate to herbooks and “ her goal is to help one person because the circle of life grabs you,” she says.
A self proclaimed “rebel with a cause,” she was 14 when she first came to Sarasota. She is the middlechild of three and is a parent of three children. Her children are her world, and “she taught them to begood people, “Shepherd says. She spends five months of the year in Longboat Key and the rest of theyear in Canada. She loves painting and frequently donates her pieces to children’s hospitals.