Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Regarding Carter’s Statement

Readers have asked about the significance of the terse one-sentence quote from former President Jimmy Carter on the upper back cover of my book, “Barbara: Best wishes with your book.” There is a story behind that simple sentence. I first met President Carter when my late former husband worked for him, hence the photo in the book of my family with Carter in 1979. After that, I met Mrs. Carter at several mental health venues I covered as a writer/editor for an occupational therapy publication. I also ran into former President Carter occasionally when we intersected on election monitoring missions (he’s mentioned in the book regarding his presence at the 1990 Nicaraguan elections). He greeted me warmly each time and when my older son died, he sent me a handwritten condolence note.

Carter’s mother, Miss Lillian, a nurse, joined the Peace Corps in her sixties and went to India. A collection of her letters written during that period was published and later President Carter wrote a book about her, including a recap of her Peace Corps service. I sent him a letter about his book, telling him that I was writing a Peace Corps book myself. He sent back the first page of my letter with a hand-written note, wishing me well for my book, the sentence quoted above and on the back cover. Encouraged by his note, I replied, asking whether one of his staff members would be able to review a draft of my book to see whether he would be willing to write an endorsement. I enclosed a print-out of the prologue and some other excerpts. However, that letter was intercepted by a staff member who told me politely, but firmly, that Pres. Carter had no time for such foolishness. So, I had to content myself with his original handwritten note. Perhaps his staffer was acting on his instructions, perhaps not. In person, Carter is very approachable and, quite understandably, his staff must protect him from unnecessary encroachments on his time and goodwill. So that’s why that sentence is so brief. If I should meet President Carter sometime in the future and personally give him a copy of the book, he might then be kind enough to write me a longer endorsement. That would make it worth coming out with a second edition. It also has been suggested that my book be submitted to Oprah, something I’m not actively pursuing myself. That’s the dream of any new author, but would be a real long shot.

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