Phew. So busy lately. Can anyone relate? Next week I'm hoping to post another chapter--but it takes a while to get things formatted so you can read it online without going completely blind.
One of the greatest joys involved in writing this book is that I have met some wonderful people and made some new friends. I mentioned earlier that I sent my manuscript to Michael Ballam, who kindly provided an endorsement. He asked if he could forward it to a friend of his, Carrie Wrigley. Carrie is a professional counselor (LCSW) who works with people struggling with depression, pornography addiction, and spiritual anemia--three of the problems for characters in the book.
Carrie was very enthusiastic in her response and even worked out a deal with my publisher whereby she could purchase copies of the book for her clients. Since then, we've corresponded regularly and become friends. Carrie, it turns out, was a theatre major and composes music--so we have similar interests, although in becoming a counselor, she showed that she was responsible enough to get a real job.
Incidentally, Carrie has put together some great online resources for dealing with depression, addiction, marriage problems and so on. Check her site out at: Morning Light Counseling.
Carrie was kind enough to write me an endorsement--which I value greatly, given her professional expertise. Thanks, Carrie!
"Gripping – Powerful – An instant classic – a “can’t-put-it-down” odyssey into the very fiber of the troubled soul - and the process by which it can be healed.
Braden Bell’s book provides a rare and personal glimpse into the heart of the struggling Latter-day Saint. His characters, compassionately and convincingly drawn, include - the depressed housewife, the self-loathing pornography addict, the self-righteous church leader, the lonely misfit. He describes the customized journey of each of these characters - from despair to hope, from alienation to connection, from brokenness to healing.
Often in our culture, we have come to regard emotional healing as a chemical victory, engineered by medical science. Yet, as the book so effectively illustrates, there is a much deeper and more comprehensive healing process available. It transforms the very thoughts, feelings, attitudes, habits, and everyday lifestyles of individuals and families in pain. This healing process is most complete - and most permanent - when it is centered in the simple truths and powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In an age of so many counterfeit cures and self-appointed experts, Bell’s book is a stunning reminder of the gentle but profound healing power of the “Wonderful Counselor” Isaiah prophesied of (Isaiah 9:6). It bears resplendent testimony that His power to heal continues to be mercifully extended in our day - and that it directly applies to these less tangible but ever-more-common afflictions of the heart, mind, and spirit."
- Carrie Maxwell Wrigley, LCSW – counselor and teacher, “Christ-Centered Healing from Depression and Low Self Worth”
When I was a senior in high school, I was a music and theatre guy. There weren’t many Mormon music and theatre guys around, so I was intrigued when heard about a new professor at USU up in Logan. His name was Michael Ballam, and he was an opera singer, who also loved musical theatre, and after a world-class career, he had recently come home to Cache Valley.
While I was on my mission, someone sent me some of his tapes. He talked about music and the gospel in a way that resonated deeply with me.. He also confirmed my desire to do something with the performing arts when I returned home.
Essentially, I wanted to be Michael Ballam when I grew up. If I’m honest, I’m not sure that I have outgrown that desire!
Using his model of teaching songs with the gospel, towards the end of my mission, I put together a fireside using some of my favorite Broadway songs to teach gospel principles. Someone videotaped it, and I sent it to Bro. Ballam, who was kind enough to write back and give me some encouraging feedback.
Even more than his feedback, his example was powerful. As I said, examples of successful performers who are also faithful members of the Church are not exactly plentiful, so good examples are precious.
Life got busy and grad school, family, and work responsibilities called.
Then, my book got accepted for publication. The publisher told me I should try to get authoritative people to write endorsements.
Well, let’s see. Who could I ask? The book is about music and theatre and the gospel. Hmmmm.
I’m not sure there is someone in LDS circles more authoritative than Michael Ballam.
I’d asked some people for endorsements already, but he was the first person I asked that I had no previous contact with.
But, I decided to try it anyway.
Sure that it might not even get to him, I mailed a manuscript to the office of the Utah Festival Opera.
A very short time later, I noticed that I had a voicemail. I had turned my phone off during church and had left it off. I checked the voicemail. It was Michael Ballam.
I called him back and had a nice conversation with him. He is the kindest, most gracious man.
The next day, he sent me a glowing endorsement. I am excited—and honored to include that here.
Thank you, Michael!
Braden Bell hits a bull’s eye with his “Road Show.” Learning more about the wonder of atoning forgiveness, you will laugh and cry as you see yourself and loved ones in the remarkably fleshed out characters of this wonderful book. A MUST read!
(In case you missed it, click here to enter the giveaway that is the talk of the blogosphere! Well, that might be a bit of a stretch--but check it out anyway.)
When I was maybe ten, my parents took me to see a musical at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City. It was called, It’s A Miracle, and I LOVED it (I can still sing almost any song from the play, incidentally). I took the playbill home and memorized it. Because I memorized it, I learned about a wonderful couple: Gary and Joy Lundberg. Joy wrote the lyrics to the play, and Gary had directed and starred in it.
This play was powerfully influential on my wanting to do theatre (and in determining what kind of theatre I wanted to do), and it was powerfully influential in helping me make choices about the kind of person I wanted to be, what kind of home I wanted to eventually have, and so on.
A few more years later, my wife and I were young marrieds in a ward at BYU. Gary and Joy came and did a fireside. It was refreshing both in its content as well as its candor. I was so impressed with them.
Since then, I’ve read a lot that they’ve written and have always been impressed. They are special people who have had a large impact on my life, even though they don’t know me.
So, you can possibly imagine how I felt when a friend offered to ask them to read my book and provide an endorsement. They are very busy, but graciously agreed to read the manuscript.
I sent it to them last Friday afternoon and waited.
I was, quite frankly, terrified. What if they hated it?
You can imagine my almost delirious joy when I opened my email on Monday morning and read the sweetest email from Joy. She couldn’t have been nicer. I was walking on air.
They sent the following endorsement, which I am deeply honored, and frankly thrilled, to receive.
Thank you, Gary and Joy!
“What a wonderful book! Our hearts have been touched. No one could read this story without feeling the depth of the Savior's love for all His children. Thank you for such an insightful, compelling, spiritual journey.”
-Gary and Joy Lundberg, authors of I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better, Love That Lasts, and Meeting Amazing Grace
To see more endorsements, click here , to read more about The Road Show, click here.
During our BYU days, Meredith and I were blessed to have several wonderful, wonderful bishops. They were, without exception, caring and consecrated men of God who ministered with love and wisdom. I remember all of them, and specific things they taught me.
Our last bishop there is one for whom we have a special fondness. He walked our family--and our ward--through some particularly difficult times.
Wayne Brickey was teaching in the Orem institute when he came into our lives. He spent a long career in CES and, in addition to teaching institute, he also worked writing curriculum.
Bishop Brickey was a remarkable man. He was a scholar and knew the scriptures and history of the Church intimately. He was a father extraordinaire. He and his wife had 11 children. Because of this, Bishop Brickey had 11 hobbies. Essentially, he took up the hobbies and interests of his children so he would have something in common with them. Consequently, he rode a motorcycle, powerlifted weights, and could talk with authority about painting--just to name a few.
He was also a devoted husband and loved his wife with all his heart. A lot of what he taught me I have passed on in Elder's Quorum lessons, private counseling, and I have tried to integrate in my own marriage.
A few years ago, I noticed that he had started publishing books. He has a weekly column with the Mormon Times. He also leads tours to Church History sites.
I wondered about the sudden burst of activity. And then I realized the answer. Because during the years his children were at home, he was a father and all of his other interests were on the back-burner. Once they were gone, it was his turn. But only then.
That's the kind of man he is.
At any rate, we love and honor him in our home still. So, I'm deeply honored that he gave me the following endorsement for my book:
"I enjoyed being caught up in this story. Not only does it explore the powers, challenges, and delights of dramatic art--there are other learnings that await the reader. This book is well worth the time of both youth and adults."
Thanks, Bishop. For everything.
To see more endorsements of The Road Show click here.
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