Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interview on News Channel 8's "Let's Talk Live!"

Wright Words: Failure is an option

Failure. Look it up in Merriam-Webster's and you'll see more than just my name and mediocre mug. You'll also find my thumbprint, Social Security number and shoe size. I challenge you to find anyone who's failed at more endeavors, large and small, than yours truly.

Did I work at Mr. Donut in high school? Yes. Was I fired for playing basketball in the kitchen with a coconut crumb donut wrapped in scotch tape? Yes.

Months later I took a job at a popular ice cream parlor across the street from the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. Weeks later I gave a generous discount to an attractive coed buying a single scoop of Moose Tracks. Then just hours later I surrendered my apron and was shown the door. Turns out the cute pre-med student was the shop's owner.

Before graduating from high school, I also worked as a tuxedo-wearing doorman, as the Easter Bunny at the local mall in a giant fuzzy costume that smelled like tobacco and gin, and as a telemarketer selling tickets to a blind circus for children. To this day I have no idea what that actually meant, I just read the script. And, evidently, not so well.

What did these early failures teach me? Only that I hadn't failed enough yet. So over the years these jobs followed: Commercial actor, nightshift at a grocery store, model for a clothing catalogue, pizza delivery guy, construction, singing telegrams with my wife and our St. Bernard, Portuguese teacher, nightshift security guard at a telephone factory, nightshift security guard at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, sales for a time-management seminar company, computer consulting, door-to-door t-shirt sales, co-owner of a company that made paper placemats for restaurants, nightshift cleaning bathroom at BYU, weekend janitor of a dental college, and night watch at a home for troubled teens.

But wait, there's more! I also was the co-founder of one of the web's first sporting goods stores, director of sales for an e-commerce software company, co-founder of an Internet design company, co-owner of two video stores, owner of a cell phone store, candidate for U.S. Congress, founder of a public policy think-tank, founder of a popular political blog, ghost writer to members of Congress, and, finally, a fulltime novelist.

Wedged into that resume meatloaf is also a fulltime mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. With the exception of marrying my wife, it remains the single most important decision I've ever made and brings me more satisfaction than any bestseller list.

Each of those career stops, even those that were odd and brief, taught me something about myself. I learned how to be a better employee and a better teammate. I learned what failure tasted like and how to take risks. But I also learned what risks not to take, and how to recognize the taste of success. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to be a better me.

Admittedly, even my current and hopefully final career has had its share of failures. Some books connect with readers, some don't, and all I can do is to continue telling stories and hope I succeed more often than not, getting better each time.

So yes, I've had dozens of jobs, some ending wonderfully, some ending with failure, but each taught me to identify a new weakness and massage it into a strength.

If I hadn't failed, I never would have written Christmas Jars.

If I hadn't failed, I wouldn't be a New York Times Bestselling author.

If I hadn't failed, I wouldn't now live in one of the world's most beautiful places, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

If I hadn't failed, I wouldn't be happy and at professional peace for the first time.

Please don't let the world convince you that failure isn't an option. Quite simply, nothing is too big to fail. Not even the guy in the Easter bunny costume.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Angels Among Us: A Visit from Dad

Another wonderful story from a reader. Thanks for sharing, Edgar!

Angels Among Us: A Visit from Dad
Edgar P.

My father died when I was 16. I carried a lot of guilt for the longest time because I was the last one to see him alive. I saw him on October 30th. Our town had decided to trick or treat that night because the 31st is normally a holiday in Nevada. So instead of having kids with sugar hangovers at school on the 1st of November, they had the kids trick or treat on the day before Halloween.
A couple of friends and I stopped by my father's house that night. He did not recognize me in my mask. I took it off and he grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek. Of course I thought I was too cool to be kissed by my old man, so I pushed him away. He died at work the next day.
A few months after his death, I had a very realistic dream in which he came in to my room and we went for a walk. He knew he was dead. And I knew he was dead. We talked about the moment when he died. He told me that everything became dark for him realizing that he was leaving his children behind. He and my mother had divorced years earlier, but we could still feel his love. We had a good talk that night. I could still feel his love.
The next morning, my mother told me that he had had a very strange dream the night before. She said she woke up because she felt that someone was in her room. When she opened her eyes, she saw my father standing there. She asked him what he wanted. He responded that he was there to see me and wanted her permission. She told him that it was fine. He walked through her door and headed to my room.
I filled her in with the rest.
My father still comes around to talk to me. I see him about once a year.

Checking in from the road

What's my name again? What city am I in? It's Day 11 of the current tour and it's been an adventure everyday. I've met the most wonderful people and been reminded that while I love writing, it's meeting people and hearing their stories that makes the journey worthwhile.

Earlier today my publisher, Penguin, released this web video. It's a short interview montage we shot in NYC a month ago. Give it a look, and if it trips your trigger, please share!

Zzzzzzzzzzz. The early wake-up call awaits.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Angels Among Us: Taking The Bus

To celebrate the release of The Cross Gardener, I recently asked friends and readers to send me their stories demonstrating that the veil between this life and the next is thinner than we sometimes realize. If you have an inspirational story of someone passing on, perhaps having help from the other side, please feel to share it by using the contact form at

The first story I'd like to share came from a good friend. I think you'll enjoy it. Others will be added soon.

Angels Among Us: Taking The Bus
Angie B., Winchester, VA

Most people look at death as a very sad and final thing when it can be a joyful and eternal. Everyone has to deal with death at some point in their life. Many of us have dealt with lots of death during our lifetime. A few years back, we lost 5 family members within 18 months.

I have had the experience of being with both of my grandparents as they left this world. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have witnessed.

In the days leading up to my grandmother’s death she kept talking about people she saw, people that were waiting for her, that were there, in the room, to get her. Several days before she died she kept telling everyone that a bus was coming and that she was going to get on the bus. The evening she died a winter storm was taking place outside, however her room was warm and filled with many family members. There were only 3 people physically in the room, my grandmother, my aunt and myself, but it felt like there was not space for anyone else in that small nursing home room. I know that family and friends came to greet and escort my grandmother as she passed through the veil into the spirit world.

The next day on the news we heard that there had been a bus accident with many casualties. I guess there was a bus coming to take her home to her Father in Heaven.

I believe we are never alone even in death, there is someone on the other side waiting for us, beckoning us to come, to take us by the hand and lead us home. I also believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones after this life, that knowledge makes death a lot less difficult. Don’t get me wrong I miss my grandparents, but I know I will see them again and that they are preparing a place for me when the time comes. I am grateful for my Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ, who make it all possible.

Is it finally March 2?

It's hard to describe what it's like for an author after so many months on Release Day.

I submitted the manuscript eight months ago on July 7, 2009. Since then we've edited, fine tuned, published, printed, shipped, planned tours, planned advertising, planned media, and waited...

And waited...

And at long last, the book is born in stores across the country.

After seven books, it's just as exciting!

I hope you'll give The Cross Gardener a spin. It's my most personal story to-date and it means the most to me. I hope, perhaps, it will mean something to you, too.

Oh, and always remember to take the long way.