Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Conversation with Amanda

One of the most delightful experiences I had in getting Conversations with a Moonflower published involved trying to get an endorsement that I desperately wanted from Amanda Dickson. Amanda is a local talk show host for KSL radio here in Salt Lake City, and I have loved listening to her for years. She is endearingly optimistic, lively, and passionate about life – and she cracks me up.

I had met Amanda during the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Olympics. I was a volunteer who had the good fortune to be one of 5 assistants to the stage manager for the closing ceremonies. We were in and out of the green room countless times during rehearsals and the night of the closing ceremonies, as we escorted the various acts around the stadium. Amanda was there, waiting to go on and do her part. The room was filled with celebrities – Josh Groban, Willie Nelson, Kiss, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estevan, Bon Jovi and many more. I was there as a volunteer, but she could not have been more gracious or interested in learning about me and my part in the ceremonies if I had been a performer myself. I found her even more charming and engaging in real life than on the radio.

About six months ago, I was driving to work early one morning and as I heard Amanda’s voice on the radio, I knew I wanted her to read my book, and hopefully to endorse it.

Time went on, the book was finished and I signed a contract with Cedar Fort on December 7, 2010. They told me they were going to ‘fast track’ my book to try and get it into stores in time for Mother’s Day. On December 16th, I wrote my editor, explaining my hope that Amanda would endorse my book and asking if Cedar Fort would contact her to set it up. They replied, “I’m not sure you could get Amanda Dickson because so many authors approach her with their books.” They also told me that authors always get their own endorsements.

I knew what I had to do to make this happen, and time was of the essence. My husband called KSL to find out if Amanda was doing any live remotes that week, but he couldn’t get in touch with anyone who knew. The next Tuesday, as I was driving to work, I heard Amanda say that on Thursday, December 23, she would be at the South Jordan Walmart and I knew what I had to do.

On Thursday, I printed a copy of the manuscript, wrote her a cover letter, and summoning all my courage, I drove to Walmart. As I parked the car, my stomach was churning, and I was amazed at my boldness in approaching her, and yet I felt fearless at the same time. I entered the store, found where they were doing the remote and headed over. As the crowd thinned I saw her sitting in a chair, laughing with a colleague. Not knowing exactly what I was going to say, I approached her.
“Hi Amanda,” I ventured as she made eye contact with me. She stood up and cheerfully said. “Hello!”

“Amanda, I’m sure you don’t remember me” I began. “But I do!” she exclaimed – “I just can’t remember from where!” I told her I met her in the green room during the Olympics. “Yes!” she said – “I remember you! You’re the one who told me they didn’t want the volunteers asking the celebrities for their autographs!”

I couldn’t believe she would remember that detail from nine years ago. She immediately asked how I was and what I had been doing. I took a deep breath and told her I had just signed a contract with Cedar Fort for a book I had written. She seemed delighted and said she thought that was wonderful.

I told her that for a number of months I had hoped that she would read my book and that if she liked it, that she would write an endorsement. I also told her that my editor said that getting her to do an endorsement would be hard because everyone wanted an endorsement from Amanda Dickson. She laughed and said, “Oh – that’s not true!” and asked me what my book was about.

As I told her, she seemed genuinely touched by the story line and said, “I would love to read your book. Do you have a copy of it?” I handed her the packet and she kind of hugged it to her and said, “I just feel like you were supposed to come here today and give this to me.”

The nervousness I had felt for days gave way and my eyes filled with tears. “Oh Amanda,” I stammered, “Thank you so much for being willing to read this. I have been so nervous for days knowing I was going to bring this to you.” She assured me it was her pleasure. She put the packet down, reached across the table, took a hold of my hands and looked me right in the eyes. “Now Chris,” she said, slowly and deliberately, “You go home and have yourself a merry little Christmas and don’t you worry about this one more minute.”

The day after Christmas, in the late afternoon, I opened my email and saw she had written to me. It said:

“Dear Chris,
I am so humbled. I’m not sure I have the right words to express what your book meant to me. And I have no faith that the quote I give you will be sufficient, but here’s what I’m thinking:

“Once in a great while a book comes along at the exact moment you need it and changes your life. Let Conversations with a Moonflower be that for you as it has been for me. Thank you, Chris. I will bloom as soon as I’m ready.”

-Amanda Dickson, KSL radio announcer and author”

I was the one who was humbled! Thank you Amanda.