Problems with the Press

Betty and I were nearing the end of the writing process, and I felt that we needed one more chapter, something about her adopted daughter. I knew the story of how Betty had seen the daughter’s unborn spirit during her experience, and how the proof of that daughter’s identity was made clear to her later in this life. I thought it was special. Powerful. Betty wrote a beautiful chapter and faxed it to me. The story brought tears to my eyes. It was the perfect ending for the book.

Artwork was already being prepared. We sent the manuscript off to four professional editors that we trusted. All four edited manuscripts came back to us, and Betty and I incorporated the changes (mostly word choices) that we felt belonged in the book. It was nearing Halloween by then, and we hoped to release the book the week before Thanksgiving, in three weeks. It would be very tight.

We sent the typeset book and artwork to the press and waited. A week later we got a phone call. Something had happened at the press that had never happened before: the brass plate used for stamping gold foil onto the jacket had broken. Cracked in half. They would have to send back East for another customized plate. Time was running out. We authorized the extra expense to fly the plate out to Salt Lake City as soon as it was prepared. The next week, the presses ran again. And we got a phone call again. The plate had cracked in half again. Something they had never seen before. Brass doesn’t crack. We authorized a new plate, and new next-day shipping, and waited another week.

The press called: they were about to run the jacket through the foil stamping machine again. Those of us in the office waited for the next phone call—whatever it would entail. The next day, the call came: the press had run all night—no problems whatsoever.

The next day Stan closed our office door and sat me down. He had a strange, ashen look on his face and seemed hesitant to speak. Then he told me what he had done. Knowing that the press was going to give it a third try, and knowing that if it failed we would almost certainly have to go to a new press, which would push our release date to well after Christmas, he had driven up to the press, feeling impressed to do something unusual. He drove around behind the press (it’s a very large building, probably taking up a couple of acres of ground), raised his arm to the square, and pronounced a priesthood blessing upon the press, its people, and, of course, its machinery. He also felt impressed to cast the Adversary away. Then the word came back that night—all was running smoothly. But from the moment he pronounced the blessing to that moment in our office, he had been unsure that what he had done was appropriate—or perhaps more correctly, he felt it had been inspired, and thus appropriate, but so unusual that he wondered if he could have possibly have gotten things wrong.

I smiled, relieved. From the pallor on his face, I had imagined woes aplenty, loved ones killed in an accident, devastating illness, personal bankruptcy, or worse, company bankruptcy. But no, it was just an unusual blessing. By this time all the jackets and covers had been stamped, and the threat was behind us. I might have said something about Mormon’s speech on discerning good from evil, that things that produced good fruits were therefore good, and I thanked him. In fact, I wished that I had thought of it. I wished I had been so inspired. But perhaps Stan’s faith, good and pure, was what was required at that moment.

The night before the text of the book was published, I received a phone call from Betty. She had discussed matters with Stan and decided to include my name as the co-author of the book. She had already asked Stan to call the press and make the change on the title page. I was stunned. As per my vow to God, I had not asked for this, or anything like it. Would allowing my name inside the book, rather than “on it,” be a denial of my vow? I hardly had time to consider that, as the call was very short. All I remember saying is, “Thank you.” It was a gift Betty had not needed to give me. It was not expected at all. Embraced By The Light was, and is, her book. In many ways, she is Embraced By The Light. The gift of “co-author” changed my life, especially the trajectory of my career, and it speaks to the generosity of this very good woman.

The books came off the press, as hoped for, the week before Thanksgiving. As we began delivering them to stores up and down the Wasatch Front—twos and threes, fives and tens—we did not know that one of the owners of the company had decided on his own to start running an ad on several radio stations in the area. The ad sported the sound of a heart monitor, beep, beep, beep, then the very loud sound of it flat-lining, BEEEEEEEEP. Over this came a man’s voice: “On November 19, 1973 Betty Eadie went to the hospital for routine surgery. But something happened, and BETTY EADIE DIED.” The sound of the machine flat-lining was so loud that hospitals around the state had people scrambling every time the ad came on over a visitor’s transistor radio. It really got people’s attention. As it so happened, thousands of people along the Wasatch Front must have read the photocopied notes by Jane Barfuss (Betty had heard from readers in all fifty states by then), because thousands of people went to the stores to buy the book. We got irate phone calls from bookstores the next day: “Why didn’t you warn us? Send more! A lot more! Hundreds more!”

Which we did, and our 20,000 books were gone in a few weeks. Fortunately, right after we saw the response to the book, we ordered another printing. And this time the plate did not break. In fact, we never had another problem with that press on any other book we printed.
But a new problem was brewing—bigger, in some ways, than any problem so far.

5 thoughts on “Problems with the Press

  1. Hello Brother Taylor,

    You may or may not remember me, but I worked for Aspen and Gold Leaf Press for a year with Mitch and Georgia, Jennifer Utley, and the fabulous art director who is now with Deseret Book. I watched a film last night called Christmas Cottage which takes place in Placerville which reminded me of you. I Googled and here you are. What an eye-opener to read the back story on Sister Eadie’s story. I’m so grateful you’re sharing it. Working for the company was one of the best years I’ve ever had in book publishing. I later worked with Georgia at Cedar Fort, which was not so good but, as they say, that’s another story. I just wanted to see how you’re doing – are you back selling or publishing? I see from the banner below that you are I’ve missed being a part of that; I was an executive book editor for CF and really came to love writers and their bravery. However, after CF, I went on and got a Master’s degree in English and taught for some years… all because of the love/passion I developed with your company. I know the company closed for a while as I stayed in touch with Darla Isackson (who recently went Home), Jennifer (now with Ancestry.com), and Georgia (retired to So. Utah), but thank you for a great experience; writing for the benefit of others is the reason for books. I heard once at a fireside that artists are the windows to greater and better things; and staying close to the Spirit keeps that window clean and bright.

    I look forward to your next post; how things are going in your writing and/or publishing life. I don’t know if you’d ever need an editor, but let me know if that ever becomes a need. I’d love to work with you (and Stan?) again.

    Lovingly in Christ, Janet Cheney (previously Janet Bernice)

  2. Hello Curtis, from your 17 yr old “Spiritual experience” (I think anyway) at least that’s what impressed my mind upon reading your first post on this blog site! It is wonderful to read the back story of your life experiences and I was both pleased and amused. You are a wonderful writer!

    I am shocked I found this as something told me to google your name. What a genuinely unexpected surprise. Are you publishing again? If you are, I’m still sitting on that manuscript you asked me to write, years ago, about the two little girls and their experiences. I am in UT now. If this (my book) should be published, it is only right that it is published by Aspen, as we had the original agreement.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing! Such a much after all these years.

    Holly

  3. Hi Holly,
    It’s good to hear from you again. We moved back here a few years ago, and, yes, I am publishing again. As far as the book about the two girls, I must confess that I don’t recall it very well. If you can, please email it to info@aspenbookspublishing.com. If it’s not digitized, let me know and we’ll work out a different way to get it to me.

    Thanks for looking me up. As you might have noticed, I need to add new blog posts, so you might check in again and see what my aging mind has come up with. Oh, and there was a nice article done about our company on ldsdaily.com. And, fyi, I’m coming out with a new book about some of my experiences in Modesto in the 70s. It’s a novel called “American Grace.” An earlier version was on Kindle for a while, but I’ve revamped it. One reviewer called it a “Mormon classic.” Ha! If he only knew the real trouble we caused back then, he’d probably call it a Mormon catastrophe.

    Again, great to hear from you. I look forward to reading your manuscript.

    Curtis Taylor

  4. Hi Curtis! Excellent writing. I truly enjoyed it. Just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you suffered so much. I’m very glad you are getting better. This is Holly from Hughson. Just wanted you to know I’m still sitting on top of a manuscript you asked me to write some 20 yrs ago. Contact me if you still have an interest in it. Soo happy you got Aspen back! Can’t wait to read your next post.

  5. Hello again! Sorry for that 2nd post as I wasn’t sure the first had gone through. Since my last awkward post, I managed to read both of your Travis Call books. Very nice! Loved your humor. The second book was full of meaty things and I’m proud to say I was left smiling at the end. Ok, now, about the manuscript I have. I need only to fine tune a few things and, ahem, write a different ending, as your editor in LA discounted the original ending as too preachy (it was) and I have NO IDEA how long it will take. But, I promise you will be receiving it first. The book is non fiction, about a little girl’s near death experience. It has some truly miraculous events and is unusual because of her orthopedic surgeon’s involvement. I’m so grateful he okayed his chapters as he died not long after that. He was a truly interesting and remarkable man. Do you have a different email where we can communicate a little, if needed about this book, before a hard copy or digital copy is sent? You have my email address now, so Gift me yours as you wish for I know we will be in contact concerning said, remarkable book! Been here in UT the past 20 years as I wound up reconnecting with and married to my former Spanish teacher from the MTC. Life is a truly remarkable gift. Oh, and one last thing, I, too, wrote about my life experiences, back in Hughson during the 70’s. My conversion story and silly, young life. You were definitely in the book. Can’t wait to read yours!
    Holly 😊

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