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BEST-SELLING AUTHOR JANET ELAINE SMITH PRESENTS FICTION, FUN AND FACTS

John Grisham and Me


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Bank Roll Excerpt

Are there certain thoughts and ideas that float through the air, waiting for someone to grab onto the wave lengths that can weave tales that once belonged to someone else?

A lawyer friend first turned me onto John Grisham and his book, "The Street Lawyer." From that moment, I was hooked! Because the book was so good? Partly. But it was more than that. It was my life he was chronicling. So, when another book came out, I had to find out what part of my life he had unveiled. Interested? For "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say, read on.

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My husband and I have run a charitable "Helps" organization since 1971. As I read "The Street Lawyer," I could hardly believe my eyes. It was as if Mr. Grisham had taken the file folders from our file cabinet and written them into his book. The names were not the same, of course, but the scenarios were almost identical. I decided he had indeed done his research very well.

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Shivers ran up and down my spine as I read "The Testament," my second John Grisham book. Why? Was it a "thriller"? Not exactly; it was more of an intrigue. But what was the most intriguing to me was that it contained the story of a man who went into the jungles of South America as a missionary. Imagine that! I spent nine years as a missionary in Venezuela. When the man contracted dengue fever, that's when the shivers set in. I could remember--like it was yesterday--the way I felt when I was hit by the dreaded dengue fever. The only problem was that I knew it was dengue fever four pages before Mr. Grisham figured it out! And even then, it took several more pages before he realized that one of the worst parts of the disease was that at 105 degrees outside, with seven blankets piled on top of me, I was shivering from chills. And yes, due to his excellent research, he eventually figured out that the chills went along with it. Mr. Grisham, quit reading my diary! Oh! I don't keep a diary! It must be those wave lengths again.

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As soon as I finished reading "The Testament," I had had it! I sat down and wrote a letter to John Grisham. I explained how his books that I had read were mimics of my own life. I asked him if he had hired a private eye to follow me. And why on earth would he pick me for the anonymous subject of his books? I ended up with saying that I was working on a short story about crooked judges and I asked him if that was going to be his next book. It was less than two weeks later that I saw a press release of Mr. Grisham's new book, "The Brethren." The story line? It was about a bunch of judges who were all locked up in jail together and they had quite a scam they were running from behind locked doors. I did not receive a reply from Mr. Grisham, but I knew he had gotten my message.

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Okay, Mr. John Grisham, you have done it again. This time you really outdid yourself! I have always loved Christmas. But your new book, "Skipping Christmas," is just a bit over the top. You see, when I left home to go as a missionary to Venezuela, I was only twenty years old. I can still hear my mother lamenting, "But you aren't even old enough to vote!" Yes, I admit, it was a few years ago. If I close my eyes and remember, I can hear my dad telling my mother that she had to be strong and not cry when I left. So it was with some surprise that I saw a few tears trickle down his cheeks as we said our good-byes. The only other time I could ever remember seeing my dad cry was when his favorite dog got run over by a neighbor. I vivdly recall thinking "At least I know he loves me as much as he loved the dog." Yes, Mr. Grisham, the conversations that took place between the main characters in "Skipping Christmas" not only mimic my parents; they ARE my parents. I don't know how you did it, but in some far-out freaky way, you heard my parents talking just three months after I went to Venezuela, when they decided for the first time in their married lives that they were not going to have a Christmas tree.
I have only one question remaining for you, if you should read this, Mr. Grisham: what part of my life are you invading for your next book? I just want to be prepared. Oh, and by the way, I do love your books.
Merry Christmas!

Like magic, this appeared in my e-mail box.
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A PAINTED HOUSE. Sounds simple enough. That's what I thought when I tried to find a picture to add here, but Mr. Grisham obviously doesn't want me using his pictures on my web site any more. I don't understand why. When I go to amazon or bn.com and look at my books, it says "People who are buying your books are also buying books by...John Grisham." Then why is it that when I look at his books it doesn't say "People who are buying your books are also buying books by...Janet Elaine Smith"?
Well, picture or no picture, he's done it again. I have spent the last 31 years working in a charitable organization that at the onset was created to deal with the problems of the Mexican-American farm workers in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota. In other words, migrants. So when I start to read A Painted House, why did it surprise me that the majority of the book was about a farm that employed----you guessed it--migrants! Like the little boy who is the narrator in the book, I speak Spanish. Not a few words, but fluently! I have translated for hundreds of them over the years. I could certainly identify with the scenario of this book. AGAIN!
But the real clencher came when at the end of the book the family had to get out of town. Why? Because of some evil deeds they were hiding? Well, there were plenty of those. But no, the reason they had to "get out of Dodge" was because of a flood. Do you remember back in 1997 when the entire towns of East Grand Forks, MN and Grand Forks, ND were evacuated because of the worst flood in U.S. history? Oh, no, Mr. Grisham; I don't want to relive that one. But in your book, I did! Like it or not, you were once again on my tail. You know, you should really consider being a private eye as well as an author. You certainly know my life inside and out. If you would like, I would be more than happy to send you the book I wrote about our flood. It is called The Flood of the Millenium. Just say the word and it's on its way.
Oh, and just for the record. I did like A Painted House.

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A great book is like a great mind; it keeps on giving
over and over and over again!
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