As the book took on a life of it's own, "the question" seemed to do the same. Through the publication of subsequent books, DVD's, and CD packages, "the question" took on new forms, but it's essence was the same. But when The Noticer came out last May, I was deluged with "the question" and knew it was time to provide a decent answer.
It was never that I didn't have any answer—I just never had a good one.
"The question" was flattering and humbling at the same time. It let me know that folks somehow appreciated the fact that I continue working hard to learn and understand principles that, if applied, can create the lives we desire for our families. But again, as honored as I was every time I was asked, I never knew the answer.
"How can I get my teenager to read your books?"
That's how it started.
Then, "What do I say to encourage my husband to read these books?"; Or "My wife needs this, but there is not a chance she'll read it. Why? Because she doesn't like 'this kind of stuff'."
There is not a day that goes by in my life now that I don't hear some version of this refrain. Often, personal information is quietly added. I hear quick, desperate little stories about depression or addictions or unforgiving spirits or fears or infidelities or financial disasters or … well, you name it. To be quite honest, I often hear these stories and cry inside. I know for a fact—
these people might not need my books,
but they need somebody's books!
But even knowing that … now we're back to the same old question: How do you get someone to read something—that they refuse to read—even though we know they'd actually like it if they ever started reading?
Enter Return to Sawyerton Springs.
I started writing funny stories about my childhood and hometown years ago. At one point, I even self-published a few of them in a volume that sold . . . oohhhh, about seventeen copies!
Though very few people knew the book existed, those who read the stories were enthusiastic about them.
Even my wife, Polly, said, "This is some of your best writing—definitely the funniest—don't worry, God is not through with this idea yet!"
About a year ago, Mark Victor Hansen (creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) asked me to produce something different for them. "Can you create an easy to read novel," he asked, "that contains your trademark lessons, but is laugh-out-loud funny?"
My reply? "Mark, I've already begun!"
So, I took some of my old stories, wrote a lot more stories, and fashioned transitions and connections in order to create a novel about my hometown. In this book, I believe you will laugh remembering the confusion of being a kid in a world run by adults, you'll relive the experiences you had with crazy neighbors, and feel an appreciation for simpler times. I've also included a running report on what's happening in Sawyerton Springs today.
I am proud of this book. Without a doubt, it is the funniest thing I have ever written. And for those of you who enjoy "significant content", you will spot the principles and messages scattered throughout.
But here's the deal . . . the lessons are subtle. Intentionally. My hope is that you will enjoy this new book as much as any of my others, but Return To Sawyerton Springs was written with a larger picture in my mind . . . I want this book to be a bridge people can use to connect friends and family to principles that can change their lives.
What if, I wondered, I could create a book that was laugh-out-loud funny right from the first chapter? What if the average reader didn't recognize this book as "self-help" or "inspirational"? If the average person loves Return To Sawyerton Springs, will they then read The Noticer or The Traveler's Gift?
That is my "agenda"—certainly not a hidden one, because I just told you all about it!
Look, if you just want to read one of my books, I sincerely appreciate that! This new one has just been released and is already in bookstores or you can link to Amazon from here . But if you really want a person you love to read a book that will change their life and they refuse, this particular book is a tool created especially for you! Simply give them Return To Sawyerton Springs and tell them it is funny. That's all.
Then, when they laugh at the baseball story (chapter 1), remember being punished for something someone else did (chapter 4), or shake their head in amazement at how we must have all grown up in the "same hometown" (every chapter), your friend or loved one will be much more willing to read something else by that Andy Andrews guy!
One more thing … I am convinced that very few media pieces today—movies, television programs, music, or books—are created with a broad family demographic. Everyone seems to try hard to dial into that narrow group of people who make up the buying public for their product. Subsequently, there are very few things that a family can enjoy together! Children don’t like what the adults want to watch, listen to, or read and vice versa. Gone are the days of The Andy Griffith Show when the whole family would excitedly settle down and enjoy something together.
I have created Return to Sawyerton Springs with your family in mind—so here is my challenge: Can you create fifteen minutes every evening for thirty days? There are thirty short chapters in this book. Can Mom or Dad or one of the older children read aloud to the family every evening for thirty days? Fifteen minutes a night with no television, no stereo, no texting, no computer games … Just you and your family laughing, thinking, talking—together! What have you got to lose? You may drag them into the den the first couple of nights, but I promise they will quickly begin to look forward to the time with you.
And they will remember it forever!!
There is a Reader's Guide in the back, so it's perfect for discussions with your family or book club. Lets have fun with this one! It's time to laugh!