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.

Getting the Rights

In the flurry of a long weekend, I flew to Seattle and interviewed Betty for fifteen to twenty hours. Everything was recorded except the parts where she told me to turn the recorder off. Some things were too sacred for the public. Then, for the next six weeks, every night after work I would go home, eat, then go back to the office and work with the transcripts of the interviews, as well as her previous manuscript, and any other details she gave me over the phone. Bit by bit, week by week, we created the account now known as Embraced By The Light.

Almost immediately I knew why I had been prompted to fast each week for the past year. The growing sensitivity to the Spirit over that time became a blessing to me now. Perhaps it had even prepared me to receive the answer to my prayer about how to find Betty. Perhaps it had helped soften the hearts of others to allow me the privilege of working on it. Perhaps this unseen, almost undefinable sensitivity would help me work with Betty, a deeply spiritually woman who could speak on subjects, and at a level, that most others in my experience could not. Every night we wrote, and every day we spoke, and gradually a new voice emerged, a blend of our two voices making the perfect voice for Embraced. Of course, Betty Eadie was its owner and creator. Everything came from her. Not a single word was written without her consent. She has often called herself a she-bear protecting her experience, and there were times when I felt the wrath of that bear. It was her perfect experience, her patience over 19 years, and her love for Christ and his work that led to the creation of this near perfect book.

At the same time, Aspen Books was rearranging its publishing schedule. Until this point, we had only published books for the Latter-day Saint market. We now created a new company, Gold Leaf Press, for this book and any others we might choose to publish to the world. We got the okay to begin working on the book during the first week of September. Both publishing companies wanted it out before Christmas—a difficult challenge. Betty and I worked six days a week, and Stan and the others worked full-time to prepare the marketing and publicity groundwork. Our sales director, Georgia Carpenter, immediately felt a kinship with Betty and began letting stores know that we would have an extremely popular book in their stores before Thanksgiving. We were still a fairly new company (barely two years old), and our word that something would sell well was largely taken with a grain of salt. But Georgia and Stan persisted, fully believing in the work and the promises that Betty and I both were making. Our company had never sold over 10,000 copies of a book before (The LDS Speakers Sourcebook, over two years), but now we were telling the press and bindery (Publishers Press and Mountain States Bindery), to prepare for a printing of 20,000. We were working on artwork, marketing, pre-sales, and even editing while the writing continued. It was a work of faith in more ways than one.

Of course, we were preparing only to sell the book in national chains and independent bookstores—no LDS stores allowed. Then something changed.

I was lying awake in bed in the small hours, trying to decompress after writing until midnight, when a thought hit me: I know this book will be a bestseller, but the other publishing company doesn’t really seem to support it, or perhaps even want it. The owner there, my old boss, had been expressing misgivings about it recently, mostly concerning its reception among Latter-day Saints—and especially among Latter-day Saint leaders. I saw the same possibilities but dismissed them, as I knew that I had been led to Betty and had clearly been shown that the book would help increase faith in Christ and love in the world. What greater purpose could a book have? Mormon said that a man (or woman) should be judged by their works:

For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also. For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing… Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift. For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil. Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. (Moro. 7:5-14.)


I had heard the details of Betty’s experience and knew it to be good, very good. Anything after that, I assumed, was of this world and of little merit. Thus, I did not share the other publisher’s concerns, at all. But there was another issue, a complication that I hadn’t yet resolved.

While writing the first page of the book, after returning from interviewing Betty, I knew that the book should not be written to Latter-day Saint audiences. A feeling, soft and gentle, but clear and unmistakable, told me that the book should be written for general audiences. Somewhat surprisingly, an image came to mind of a 40-something woman with a beer in her hand watching a sit-com on TV. I felt that this was who the Lord wanted us to reach, along with millions of others who would dismiss the book if they felt it was biased toward a single church. I elected to follow that feeling, and write for that woman, rather than heed the other publisher’s call to write for the members of the Church. That had been a few weeks before this night, now as I lay awake, knowing the other publisher would likely reject the new book and cancel our contract, whereupon he would likely publish the smaller, less complete manuscript in his collection of near death stories.

What to do?

An idea struck me. We should offer him cash for all the rights to the book. A lot of cash, so much that he wouldn’t dare turn it down. A figure entered my head. A large figure. More than we had. More than he could possibly turn down.

I took the idea to Stan and the five owners. Not all of them were as certain about the book’s future as I was, but some were on board. The president of the company said he had been having dreams about the book, that it would do much good, that it would sell extremely well, and he liked the idea of owning the book outright. But where to find the money?

The president decided to borrow some of it by mortgaging a property he had, and dear Georgia, bless her heart, went to her family, told them how great the book was going to be, and offered them a rather high interest rate on any loan they might make. Incredibly, they did it.

So, a couple of weeks later, with the money in hand, I drove 45 miles to the other publisher and gave him the rather large check. No, the very large check. Far more, no doubt, than he expected to earn from the book itself. It was a Saturday morning, but there still seemed to be a full staff on hand. His wife was even there, perhaps to make sure the transaction went on as called for. His lawyer had prepared the contract. We both signed it, and I gave him the check. It was over. We owned all the rights and could prepare the book as we saw fit.

Guided by the Light

I need to back up. Over the years certain “experiences” had come to me regarding the other side. Sometimes they were dreams, sometimes random understandings, sometimes unusual sights that left me humbled and, almost as often, puzzled. I won’t go into detail except to say that they gave me an idea of what the other side was like. By the time I was eighteen I had learned by hard experience that my priesthood leaders were as baffled by these experiences as I was—nay, more so, as I knew the experiences tended to lift my spirits and bring joy, but to my leaders they seemed to portend trouble and suspicion; so, like young Joseph, perhaps, I learned not to bother my spiritual leaders with spiritual things.

When I scanned the papers, I saw that they were notes taken by a Jane Barfuss at a lecture given by a Betty Eadie, two women I had never heard of. Betty had evidently spoken at a library, and Jane had taken these single-spaced notes. The lecture seemed to be about Betty’s near death experience. At that point, I only had a passing interest in near death experiences, but something on the first page caught my eye, and I sat down and started reading. She spoke of inanimate objects in the spirit world being imbued with intelligence, of a stream cascading down a hill that created audible music as it bounced and splashed, with each random drop producing its own tone as it flew through the air, which perfectly harmonized with the greater, ever-evolving music of the larger stream.

I was astonished. I knew this was true, because I had seen similar things—but I had never heard another soul speak of it. My own efforts at sharing my experiences had produced, at best, quiet misgivings, but this woman was telling an entire audience at a public library about sacred things. I read on, throwing time to the wind, and learned of Betty’s death in a hospital after surgery, whereupon she went to heaven, where, in fact, she was embraced by the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Jesus Christ. Then, after what seemed like months, she was sent back. She had been dead for about two hours in our time.

After reading about each detail in her experience, I would stop and ponder, comparing it to my own limited experiences. When I finished, some two hours later, I had one desire: to help this woman put her experience in a book and publish it to the world. A few days earlier, I’d had a dream in which my father, who was still living at the time, said to me: “Every great thing accomplished in this world is done through passion.” Well, I had a passion to do this work, but there was a problem—I didn’t know who she was or where she lived. In the entire text there was no mention of her home. So, I knew what I had to do.

I took the notes upstairs to my room, closed the door, and knelt down by my bed. In a prayer full of desire, I told Heavenly Father that I had a passion to help this woman create a book from her experience. I told him that I thought the book would do much good, that it could help heal hearts and wounded spirits—but I didn’t know where she lived or how to contact her. I didn’t even know where the notes had come from that I had read that morning. (It turned out that they had come from our 12-year-old daughter, who had brought them home from Young Women’s the night before. Her advisor knew that I published books and thought they might be something I would be interested in. But even she didn’t know where the original notes had come from.) As I was praying, a thought came to me: Make a vow that I would not seek to have my name on the book or ask for any royalties. This would be easy, I thought, since I only wanted to be a part of the effort. I didn’t want any credit or money from it. I just wanted to be a part of this wonderful gift to the world. So I made the promise in very direct, simple terms. Then, before I could say another word, I saw an image in my mind of a library several miles away from our home. Instantly I knew that if I went there, I would discover where she lived. There were other libraries closer to us, but that was the library I was supposed to go to. I thanked Heavenly Father for this knowledge, when another understanding came to me, telling me that the book we would produce would be the best-selling book in the world. Also, that it would increase faith in Jesus Christ and cause millions around the world to be filled with his love. This knowledge was absolute and could not be shaken.

I ended my prayer, picked up the notes, and went in to the office, two hours late. Immediately I made copies of the notes and distributed them to everybody in the office, including the owners of the company, then I said I would be back soon, that I had to go to the library.

When I went to the Murray Library, I had no idea how I would learn anything about Betty Eadie. Maybe I would find something in the card catalog. Maybe a worker would know something about her. I walked through the large glass doors and almost ran into a large A-frame easel with a dozen atlases on it. The display caught my attention, and I thought, “Oh no, do I have to look through all these atlases?” All were atlas of the world, except one, in the upper right corner. That one was an atlas of the state of Washington. I thought, well, I might as well start with the most specific one, then go from there. I pulled it down, took it over to a counter, and opened it up to a random page. My eyes immediately fell on the word “Burien,” and I knew that’s where she lived. It seemed I had seen that word in the notes, though I couldn’t recall. But I was sure that I had found her town. I closed the atlas, put it back on the easel, and walked out. I hadn’t been there more than a minute, maybe less than thirty seconds.

I went back to the office and called information in Burien, Washington. (This was pre-internet days—August 1992.) I asked for a Betty Eadie and was given a number. Hallelujah, she did live in Burien—I mean, how many Betty Eadies could there be in Burien, Washington? I called the number and had a short, interesting conversation.

“Hello, I’m calling for Betty Eadie.”

“This is she.”

With bated breath: “I just read some notes about a lecture you gave at a library, and I…”

“Oh, I’m sorry. You have the wrong number. I think you want the other Betty Eadie. I get calls for her all the time. Actually, if you can wait, I can get her number for you.”

While she went to get the number for the correct Betty Eadie, I said a thousand thanks that this good woman had thought to write down the correct number. If she hadn’t, I didn’t know what I would have done. She came back and gave me the number, which I carefully wrote on my pad on my desk, then I thanked her profusely and hung up.

Then I called the right number.

She answered after two or three rings.


“Hi, my name is Curtis Taylor. I’m the managing editor of publishing company called Aspen Books, and I just read the notes Jane Barfuss wrote about your lecture at the library.”
She was silent.

“I’m calling because I want to help you put your experience into a book. I’ve written a few books, and if you need any help, I can assist you. I won’t ask for any royalties or even for my name to be on the cover. I just want to help. I just want to be a part of this project. I have a passion to do this work.”

She was silent a few more moments, then she said something like, “What took you so long?”


“I’ve been waiting for your call for nineteen years.” She didn’t sound pleased.

“Well, uh, I had to make copies of the notes for the other people at the publishing company, and then I had to find out where you lived, which was quite a wonderful experience, and then I called the wrong number, because as it turns out there’s another Betty Eadie in Burien, but she gave me your number, and then, right away, I called you. I promise.”

“I see.”

I explained again about the passion and great desire to be of help.

Still not sounding pleased, she said, “I just signed with another publisher.”

The world stopped. Dumbfounded, I found my voice and asked her who it was.

She gave me the name, and I became more dumbfounded. It was, remarkably—no, impossibly—the same man who had rejected my novel after paying for it. Of all the publishers in the world, why him? He had already admitted to making one mistake; could I possibly get him to make another and let me publish the book? I told Betty Eadie that I knew the man and would give him a call immediately.

I later learned why Betty was less than pleased. Some time after having her experience, she was told that she was to record it in a book and that a “young man” would call to help her. He would say, “I have a passion to do this work.” She actually heard him say it, so she would know what his voice sounded like in the future.

It turns out that my voice and this other man’s sound somewhat similar.

As with all great deceptions, the counterfeit came first.

I called the deceiver. He wasn’t in but would be back later that day. I got in the car and drove to his office, forty-five miles away.

I waited an hour. It turned out that he had been up my way. Whatever. I wanted answers. Did he have the rights to Betty Eadie’s story? He said he did. Did he want to give them to me? He said he did not. Did he want to sell them? He said he did not. He asked how my other book was going. I said it was doing fine, along with the other twenty or thirty I had published since, but I wanted to talk about Sister Eadie’s project. He said he couldn’t help me. I told him that if I could ever help him—with this book—I would gladly do so. I drove back to the office, where I called Betty and gave her the bad news—the man would not part with the rights.

Then I waited for a very strange three days, wherein I pondered the imponderables of agency and revelation. I still had the passion, but I didn’t have the rights to do anything with it. I tried to distract myself with my other work, which was going fine, but seemed rather run of the mill in comparison.

Three days later a phone call came. The other publisher was on the line. He’d been thinking about it. Would I like to assist in the project after all?

“Yes.” I managed not to yell it.

Very well, he said. (He often said very well, even when things were not very well, especially on my end of things.) Betty had written a short manuscript, which he had planned to incorporate into a selection of near death experiences, but now he was considering creating a separate book out of it, and would I be interested in interviewing her and enlarging the work with more details to make it a full-sized book?

“Yes,” Again in a moderate tone.

He said if I would do that, he would offer me the worldwide rights to the book, except for the LDS rights, which was all he was interested in. I said he didn’t have to do that, that I would work on the book in my spare time and do it for nothing. He said, no, he would prepare a contract which would give me the worldwide rights if I would do everything at my own expense, including flying up to interview her. (A clever man, he was keeping the costs down again—in all conditions. No matter what.) Then he added a caveat: He wanted the book written for Latter-day Saint audiences, which was the market he was most familiar with. I said sure.
I called Betty and told her the good news—I could help her create a book, and we could market it to the world outside the LDS market. I also told my employers: if I could interview her and help write the book at our expense, we would have the greater share of the worldwide rights. They agreed to bear the cost.