Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some e-mails are meant to be shared

Some e-mails are just too good to keep all to myself. This one will have me smiling for weeks. Hope you enjoy it, too. Her enthusiasm is infectious!

I bet you receive countless stories about Christmas Jars or Wednesday Letters, even about Cross Gardeners. My note to you is different, I hope.

My husband and I love adventure and often find it with our three children in tow. My dearest love had our 2009 summer vacation planned, that meant we were hittin' the road and I needed a good read.

Off to my Wal-Mart I went, and what did I find... The Wednesday Letters! I looked it over, liked what I read and bounced off to buy it. Well, in my mind I bounced off, I forget I'm in my mid-30s sometimes.

Back on June 25, 2009 my husband and I, with our three children, hopped in the truck and headed north out of Georgia. My darling husband had the miles mapped out and reservations set. Our first stop would be Natural Bridge, VA. We love nature and natural formations and a stop at a natural bridge was a must. Somehow we made it up to VA in lightning speed, or perhaps it was simply because I was absorbed with my latest read.

That first night we stayed in Harrisonburg, VA. As I read my novel I became aware, quite quickly, that I was IN my book. It was the oddest feeling. I shared so much with my husband about the novel and the correlation between it and where we were. Little did I know, it would be even more intense for me.

June 26th we woke up ready to take on our next planned attraction. We headed out of Harrisonburg, and with eager anticipation we went on our way to Luray Caverns. As my husband navigated his way I slipped back into my novel, The Wednesday Letters.

Not before long I looked up and found us at an intersection in a cute little town. My husband was unsure of which way to go, and since we are so cliche, he didn't ask for directions or look at a map and I pointed us in whatever direction my woman's intuition led me. We took a left and headed on our way to what we thought was the way to Luray Caverns.

With my book in my lap I saw a sign, OH MY GOODNESS, we were in New Market! Seeing that alone got me revved up and I gave my husband quite the earful with more stories of Malcolm and his trials.

We drove along and then I saw a sign for Mount Jackson. I was close to jumping out of my skin. At that point I could care less about Luray Caverns or anything else going on around me.

We continued to head north and I took in the beautiful vista all around me, I was in the Shenandoah Valley and I was so happy.

I had my book clutched to my chest as we rolled into Edinburgh. I knew in my heart that we were going the wrong way, away from the caverns, but I also knew the name of the town that just lied to the north. I didn't need a map and the feeling I had inside me was indescribable.

I headed into a gas station and asked for directions to the caverns, after hopping back in the truck and telling my husband we had to turn around, I also told him about the story that unfolded right to the north of where we were.

The next town to the north was Woodstock, a town I knew in my head, where I knew about the inn, the residents and the scenery.

As we drove back south, away from Woodstock I felt a peace, because I knew I had already been there, even if just in my mind.

Can we say irony? How is it that just days before my trip through the Shenandoah Valley I pick up a book that is set in that very place? How is it that without even meaning to, we got lost right in the very same area where the book is set?

It's a feeling and experience I will never fully find the words to explain but I think it's one of the most amazing ironies I've ever experienced.

Thank you Mr. Wright, for giving me a reading experience like no other!

Michelle Lynch
Loganville, Georgia

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wright Words: No, I can’t introduce you to Glenn Beck

Every single week someone writes, calls, texts, or flies an airplane banner over my home asking if I can facilitate an introduction to Glenn Beck.

The requests are typically based on the fact that Jason Wright is a Mormon, Glenn Beck is a Mormon, and I’ve been on his show. Naturally we must be BFF’s, right?

Usually people wanting my access to Glenn have a new book coming out, a just-finished manuscript in search of a publisher, or maybe a line of cotton aprons with conservative slogans plastered on the front with a Bedazzeler.

Other times they just want to say they’ve shaken his hand or talked to him on the phone. One ‘friend’ even wanted me to invite Glenn to a surprise birthday party in Dallas. And by ‘friend’ I mean we met on Facebook when he threw a Sheep at me.

These requests come from all corners of the country. A woman in Virginia asked me to tell Glenn she prefers him in his blue sweater and to wear it more often. A man from Oregon suggested Glenn put a ‘cussin jar’ on the set to encourage him to keep his language under control.

One request came all the way from Australia. After catching me on Glenn’s program, a woman e-mailed this gem: ‘Please tell Mr. Beck someone from the Outback thinks he’s an idiot.’ No Mate, I didn’t pass that one along, but I think of you every time I eat a Bloomin’ Onion.

It’s not that I’m annoyed by these requests; I just don’t understand them. Somehow these well-meaning folks assume Glenn and I play golf every Friday and have cart races on the 18th fairway. It’s simply not true.

What is true is that Glenn is a friend. We met in 2005 when Christmas Jars was still a speck on the national radar and nowhere near a New York Times bestseller. Before the book was even in stores, my publisher sent Glenn an advance readers’ copy (ARC) with a note requesting he give it a look and consider endorsing or discussing it on the air. But that’s hardly unusual. Like most publishers, they send ARC’s to all sorts of media personalities from Beck to Lauer and from Regis to Ellen. That first year, we were so desperate we probably sent one to Handy Manny.

Weeks passed without word from anyone and we assumed the book was lost somewhere in the giant pile Glenn and his counterparts receive each month.

Then the phone rang. A week before Christmas a cousin called and suggested I turn on my radio because Glenn was discussing my book. No, he wasn’t just discussing it, he was reading from it. He read nearly the entire first chapter and gushed about it with enthusiasm even the ShamWow guy would envy.

The next day I called his radio show, introduced myself, and Glenn graciously endorsed the book once again on the air. He told his listeners that the previous Friday someone from his radio staff had begged him to take home a book for the weekend and make progress on the stack of ARC’s awaiting his attention. He gave the tower of books a quick scan and pulled out the thinnest, having faith it was something he could actually finish by Monday morning. There’s no other way to put it: That good fortune changed my life.

A year later he invited me to join him on his television show to share some of the true Christmas Jars miracles I’d heard since the book’s release.

Another year later he read and endorsed The Wednesday Letters, again inviting me on television and radio. Then came Recovering Charles, which Glenn again praised and promoted with me at his side.

In 2008, Glenn asked me to co-write The Christmas Sweater and I was fortunate to spend time on the phone and in-person hearing his personal story and his vision for sharing it with the world. It remains a highlight of my writing career.

Last year Glenn made time in a very busy season to again discuss the Christmas Jars movement on his radio and TV programs. I spent the day in his offices, soaking up the energy and capturing as many memories as I could. At one point during a one-on-one discussion in his office, I actually became emotional discussing a personal trial. He hugged me and offered words of encouragement. It was a tender moment I hold dear.

Since first meeting Glenn, he’s become a national phenomenon. There was a time I could get him on the phone, but that’s become a near impossible task for all but his closest associates. There were many days he replied to my e-mails, now he must receive more e-mails everyday than I receive in a year.

Even his staff, the most loyal bunch I’ve ever encountered, is much harder to communicate with. But such are the challenges and realities of being the #3 most popular radio show in the country, a TV mega star, and a publishing machine. As his star has grown, the protective layers around him have understandably multiplied and thickened.

Obviously I understand the desire to connect to Glenn Beck. I owe him a great deal and I readily acknowledge I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Love him or hate him, his clout in the publishing marketplace is colossal. When Glenn mentions, endorses or interviews an author, he moves books like no one but Oprah, the original kingmaker.

I were as successful and visible as Glenn, would I want my friends constantly using our friendship as an entre for everyone who needs my time or name on the back of their book? Would I resent the fact that being friends with Jason means he’ll bombard me with every next-big-thing that hits his in-box? I’ll never know, but I can certainly imagine.

No, I can’t introduce you to Glenn Beck. But I like you and I’m glad we’re friends/acquaintances/neighbors/complete strangers. What I can do is invite you to watch his show, listen to his radio program, read his books, and enjoy everything his growing empire has to offer.

If you have a book, CD or other creation to promote and it’s something in Glenn’s wheelhouse, Google his address at Fox News in New York and send it to him. Trust me, it’s worth a shot.

Finally, I promise that if Glenn and I ever race those golf carts, I’ll tell him you prefer the blue sweater.