Monday, April 26, 2010

A truly FAB book club shout-out

I don't normally do book club shout-outs, but not all book clubs are quite like this one!

It was a thrill today to chat by speaker phone with the FAB (Friends and Books) Book Club in University Place, Washington. I'd met two of the members at a signing last fall, and despite my efforts to scare them off, they contacted me anyway.

Today we discussed The Wednesday Letters and the club's ten gorgeous gals asked some really wonderful questions.

So thanks, ladies, for a swell time! Hope the salad was good ;-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wright Words: I am a Mormon

I am guilty of waiting. For much of my career I have shyly waited for people to ask my religion, waited for the subject to come up, waited to share what I hold most precious.

Because I enjoy weaving spiritual themes into my signings or during more formal speaking engagements, often someone will approach and ask what church I attend. I love the conversations that follow. Frankly, there isn’t much I'd rather talk about than the faith that in many ways defines me.

I am a Christian. I am an imperfect follower of a perfect Savior. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Or, if you prefer the nickname sometimes used to describe members of the Church, I am a Mormon.

If you've read any of my novels, you know that I do not write books specifically about my religion. I write stories that contain the flavor of faith, but do not promote one religion over another. I write about broad themes important to all of us, no matter what church we call home.

I write about Christmas, forgiveness, redemption, family, marriage, charity, miracles, and life-after-death. Admittedly, I've learned and grown more from writing my own books than anyone ever will from reading them.

When I began my career as an author I was involved in frequent discussions about how prominent I should make my religion. Should we mention Brigham Young University in my bio? Should I reference my two-year mission to Brazil? Should we advertise that one of my two publishers is Salt Lake-based, home to Church headquarters and a high concentration of Mormons?

How shameful.

Five years and seven books later, I am ashamed those debates ever took place, and I accept that the blame rests on my shoulders alone. I am embarrassed that for years I simply wanted to be a New York Times bestselling author who you may or may not find out later just happens to be a Mormon. How shallow that I allowed the small percentage of consumers who won't buy a novel by a Mormon to dictate how I was introduced to readers.

Recently I stumbled across a blog that inferred a number of Mormon authors, including me, had been deceitful. The blogger complained that he never would have bought our books had he known we were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He even expressed pride at having uncovered the secret through a series of online searches and a complicated game of connect-the-dots. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes, no doubt.

This blogger's theory was that books like mine by Mormon authors, especially in the genre of inspirational fiction, are just thinly veiled attempts to spread our faith. He's half-right, at least in my case. I do hope my books spread my faith that God lives, that He loves us, and that the challenges we face everyday are universal and the occasionally painful lessons absolutely necessary to our growth.

But I also hope they are good ole fashioned page-turners that entertain and beg a second reading. If a reader wants to find inspiration and faith, that's wonderful. If a reader wants nothing more than to sit in a comfortable chair and escape life for a few hours, I'm just as thrilled.

In either case, in the future this well-meaning though misguided blogger won't have to don a black deerstalker hat to uncover my religion. I've added my faith to my website biography and press kits.

I wonder if this blogger or anyone else who won’t buy a work of Christian fiction by a Mormon knows just how much I appreciate his or her own religion. I have dear friends from all corners of religious faith and two of the most trusted people in my day-to-day career are Catholic and Jewish. One is my editor, the other my agent. I trust them both. I love them both.

I wonder if this blogger or anyone else who won’t buy a work of Christian fiction by a Mormon knows how many churches have invited me to speak in their chapels, sanctuaries, etc. Just this month alone I will speak in two Methodist churches and at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, a combined congregation of Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians. Next month I’ll speak to the Knights of Columbus and in years' past I've spoken to Baptists, Catholics and many more. I cherish those experiences more than any other.

Naturally it is important to know that I am not just a Mormon. I am proud to be a brother, husband, father-of-four, volunteer, neighbor, and friend. I am also a son of a loving Heavenly Father and the son of earthly parents who raised me to embrace my faith and to love the Lord and follow His example.

Perhaps I owe this blogger a thank you for jarring me from my quiet complaisance and for reminding me just how proud I am of my heritage, my faith, and the Church I love so dearly.

So, if you're reading this column and thinking, "I had no idea he was a Mormon," I sincerely apologize.

If you're reading this column and want to know more about what I believe, ask me. I’d love to tell you.

Finally, next time you're in a bookstore and you see a book with my name on the cover, it's buyer beware from this day forward: I am a Mormon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meeting the Harveys

This post begins the telling of one of the neatest stories in our lives. For those of you who have read The Cross Gardner, you will recall where they discuss an apple called the Ginger Gold and the story of how it came to be. For those who haven't had a chance to read the book, this will mean much more to you when you do. But in the meantime, here is one of the references from The Cross Gardener:


We chatted on the way about the history of apples in Virginia and how I ended up an orchardist. He was interested in the decision making Scott and I went through after Father’s death. Curious how often I saw my brother. Interested in Tim and whether I thought he might have ended up on the orchard someday.

The Cross Gardener had a way of making everything I said interesting. In his presence my stories and ideas were important. A rare talent, I thought.

“Here we are.” I pulled into the driveway and stopped just shy of the fence.

“Great fence,” he said. “I love picket fences. You build it yourself?”

“With my wife, yes.”


We got out of the truck and I led him down the closest row of apple trees. “There isn’t much to see by way of fruit, obviously, because the harvest is over.”

He reached down and picked up a rotting apple. “Why are there some on the ground?”

“If it’s a mature apple, which that one is, it probably fell during harvest. That happens a lot. Or it could have just fallen from an apple bin. That happens, too.”

“How long can it sit on the ground before it starts to rot?”

“Not long in Valley heat, that’s for sure.”

“And you don’t go by and pick them up?” He placed the apple back on the grass.

“Not usually. They can bruise if they fall. And no one wants a bruised apple.” We walked to another row.

“Are all these trees the same?”

“No, we try to alternate rows. A lot of orchards do. That first
row was Red Delicious. These are Ginger Golds.”

“Ginger Golds. So those aren’t red, one assumes?”

“One assumes correct.” I smiled. Standing there and looking at his curious eyes, almost childlike, I realized that I hadn’t told anyone about my favorite type of apple, or why it was my favorite, in a very long time.

“Ginger Golds are special.” I looked to the end of the long row of appleless trees. “They’re also the first we harvest. These were picked before Emma Jane, my wife, died.”

“I see why they’re your favorite then.”

“It’s not just that, they’ve always been my favorite apple. The Ginger Gold is a result of Hurricane Camille back in the sixties. Nineteen sixty-nine to be exact. The hurricane about washed away the orchard of a man named Clyde Harvey. Almost nothing left but devastation. Some time later when they were saving what trees they could, they came across a tree Mr. Harvey hadn’t ever seen before. It produced a yellow fruit instead of the red on the other trees around it. Eventually they planted more of them and he named it for his wife, Ginger.”

“Thus, the Ginger Gold,” the Cross Gardener said.

“That’s right.”

“What a miracle that something so sweet, something that brings joy to many, came from something as tragic as a hurricane. That’s lovely. One of the sweetest things I’ve heard.”

Back at the end of March the Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville, VA held a discussion and book signing for The Cross Gardner.

Among those in attendance were three very lovely and special ladies: Ginger, Gayle and Debbie Harvey.

Now let me tell you a little bit about these amazing ladies. Ginger Harvey is a beautiful woman inside and out. She is married to the late Clyde Harvey and has two equally beautiful daughters, Gayle and Debbie.

The Harveys owned an orchard in Central Virginia for many years. During their time in the apple world they experienced something not many ever do. They nearly lost the entire orchard to the floods brought on by Hurricane Camille.

There was much tragedy in their little valley, but as they began the recovery process they found a young tree that was not familiar to them. It turns out the tragedy of the floods had brought them a special "Gift from God," as Ginger likes to say. The Harvey family was blessed with a one-of-a-kind tree produced entirely by God and Mother Nature. It yielded a beautiful, tasty apple which later became known as the Ginger Gold.

After meeting the Harveys at the book signing we were eager to spend some time with them. Just last week Gayle and Ginger made the drive up to the Valley to see the orchard that inspired the story.

Meet Tracy, the talented orchardist who shared his knowledge with Jason.

After saying goodbye and sending them on their way, Jason and I kept saying to each other, "How cool is it to meet someone who has an apple named after her growing right now on trees all around the world?"

We feel so honored to know them and we look forward to a long and fruitful (LOL) friendship.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Library Journal Reviews TCG

Thanks, LJR!


Library Journal Reviews
April 15, 2010

SECTION: REVIEWS; Christian Fiction; Pg. 70
LENGTH: 134 words

HEADLINE: The Cross Gardener

BYLINE: Nanci Milone Hill

BODY: Wright, Jason F. The Cross Gardener. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA) . 2010. c.304p. ISBN 978-0-425-23328-3 . $22.95. CF

John Bevan and his young daughter, Lou Lou, try to heal after a tragic accident takes the life of his wife and unborn child. Struggling to understand God's purpose, John erects a small cross on the side of the road where his wife died. One day, he meets a man painting his wife's cross, and the "cross gardener" eventually helps John see that his wife would have wanted him to live his life and enjoy every moment with his surviving child. VERDICT: This latest book by best-selling author Wright (The Wednesday Letters; The Christmas Sweater with Glenn Beck) is sure to be devoured by his large fan base as well as by new readers who enjoy wiping their eyes while reading a great story.

LOAD-DATE: April 6, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Angels Among Us: The Fall

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

Angels Among Us: The Fall
Bri C.

In 2004 my husband and I were in our first home. Chris began clearing the side lot of our home which was covered in trees. One of those trees was right beside an electric pole. As he climbed his 22 ft ladder high above the previous stumps that were left of the adjacent trees he secured a winch to a tree limb while he prepared to saw (using a chainsaw) away the limb. Later he would say that he felt the Spirit prompt him not to use the winch. He sawed anyways and the limb snapped lodging in his forehead and throwing him to the ground where he landed on a stump. He was unconscious and couldn't see.

When he awoke he was very disoriented. He said he felt someone simply carry him the 75 ft where he landed to the front door. He said that he felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and warmth. The physical proof of this event was the lack of blood. That 75 ft from the door to the spot where he landed was completely free of any blood. There was blood on the front door all over the carpet and in the foyer. But no stains on our paved driveway or the dried dirt under the trees. We have speculated it is a ministering angel. Surely it was something divine.