aunt Jan is indisposed due to some recent celebrating. I have
encouraged her to drink a bit of mint tea (she loves mint, you know!)
to settle her stomach. In the best interest of us all, I also mentioned
she might want to take it a bit easier—she’s not as young as she once
was. She asked me to write a short piece to you in her place this month
and to assure you she will return very soon. If I lived closer, I’d
take her a hot dish. It’s amazing how restorative they can be to an
She sent me this letter to
Dear Ms. Flanders,
I am huge fan of several authors. I’d
like to contact them with my sincerest thanks for their work. I’d also
like to know they are getting my messages and if it is okay that I
contact them directly. I am wondering where I can find their addresses,
A Frazzled Fan
I do understand and just so you
know that’s true, let me explain my
personal experience on this subject. I am a big-time fan of John
Grisham, and after reading his latest work, I wrote him a long letter,
certain he needed to be encouraged. We quickly assume the rich and
famous are built-up all the time, but I’m not sure that’s true. So, I
wanted to let him know how important the novels he writes are to me.
Composing the letter was easy—I
was in my writing zone that day. I
signed it with my best handwriting, folded those two pages with care,
and tucked it into a #10 envelope. Finding Mr. Grisham’s address was a
bit more difficult. I came up empty-handed. I thought about contacting
his publisher as listed on his Web site, but I wanted Mr. Grisham to
read my letter himself. I momentarily considered hiring a private eye
to find the illusive author. The thought was quickly dispelled when I
realized the cost. Call me frugal, but isn’t a $500 retainer a bit
steep to find an address? For crying out loud.
I was not about to give up, so I
read the cover flap again and
realized it said he resided in a town in one of the Carolinas, or some
such Southern state. I looked up the zip code and addressed the
envelope to John Grisham, the town, state, and zip code. I took it
straight to the post office and whispered a prayer as I slide it into
the OUT OF TOWN box.
Do I think it reached Mr.
Grisham’s home? You betcha! How do I know?
I was careful to include my return address on the envelope. I never saw
that envelope again.
It wasn’t until later, at a
church potluck for writers, I learned
about my mistake. The speaker for the event addressed this very
subject. Although she’d never been published, and therefore her
authority was somewhat questionable in my mind, she said it’s always
correct to contact the publisher first. She assured us they would be
delighted to pass on any personal mail to the author. Now, she was a
bit snooty as if she had already attained famous status, but she did
like her coffee strong and black, so that gave me reason to at least
consider what she said.
I walked her to her car that
evening, and we stood in the parking
lot awhile talking writing. I was a bit distracted because it was a
clear evening and right over her head was the North Star shining as
bright as a beacon. I was named after that star of the North and taught
from a young age to guide people toward goodness. Yah, I sure do work
hard on that.
I told her about my letter to
John (I feel like I know him after
reading every one of his books—twice!), and she invited me to her next
speaking event. They will be serving lutefisk so I’ll probably attend.
Her new topic has slipped my mind. In fact, just remembering my John
Grisham letter has given me a bit of a headache. I never heard back
from him, so perhaps he was offended. I prefer to think he was glad to
get it but was very busy with his next writing project, his family, or
teaching Sunday school, which I’ve read in several places he does.
So, to answer your question, I
wouldn’t waste your hard-earned
income on the paper, ink, envelope, or stamp. You’d be better off
saving it for a rainy day, if you ask me, which in a way you did.
the publisher an e-mail and be glad someone read it. Getting in touch
in person with a famous author is a bit like contacting the president
of the United States personally—you have to go through the Secret
I’m sure authors get a lot of
junk from people and receive some
improper requests, like being asked for free books and such. So, I’m
sure it’s in their best interest to be cautious. We can support them by
continuing to buy their books and telling everyone we know at our
Ladies Aid meetings and bake-offs. We had fun raffling off a nearly
brand-new (I was very careful while reading it) John Grisham best
seller at a pancake breakfast recently. The proceeds went to the wife
of an injured motorcycle rider. Now I ask you, what was he doing out
there on the highway, anyway, on those two wheels? There’s man who
needs a letter! And most likely a hot dish.
I do sometimes wonder what John
is up to. I wish he’d grant a few more interviews or go on Oprah.
Not that I watch her on a regular basis, and the television in my
kitchen is on the fritz. Besides, I’m far too busy with all this snow
shoveling and hot dish preparation. Ufda! But I’m sure Aunt Jan could
watch during her convalescence and report on it. I’d still like to
visit her, but I suspect she prefers to sip her mint whatchamacallits
alone. I prefer a mug of hot black coffee, strong enough to plow snow
down at Inga’s Café on the corner of Main Street and Lief Ericson
Avenue. I usually indulge in a piece of her lefse and catch up the
local news. Those farmers sure have a way with words.
Aunt Jan will be back next month
I’m sure. Yah, you betcha she will.
is proper etiquette on writers’ e-mail loops?
Oh Jane! Oh Roger! Using characters’ names in dialog.