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Sept. 11 tragedy prompts inspirational series

   The From the Heart series began as an idea to heal a hurting nation following Sept. 11, 2001.
   Kendall Bell, an editor at a daily newspaper, realized after the tragedy that people needed something to let them know everything was going to be. He decided to do this by collecting stories love and inspiration.
   So he sent e-mails to several friends requesting their “feel good” stories.
   “I was looking for ten or twenty stories that I could print out on my computer and send out as Christmas gifts,” Bell said. Fearing the response would be slow, Bell asked everyone to also forward the e-mail to their friends. Bell said even he wasn’t prepared for what happened next: “I suddenly found myself deluged by more than 2,000 stories from all around the world.”
   Realizing the potential for a “real’ book, Bell approached a publisher who offered Bella contract that same day.
   Bell, realizing he could never read through the plethora of stories by himself,  removed identifying information from each one and sent them to friends to try to select only the best.
   “I removed the authors’ names and hometowns,” he said. “And I assigned numbers to each story. I asked everyone to rank them from one to ten.”
   After several people read the stories, the best ones kept rising to the top. And in less than six months, Bell had narrowed the stories down to the top fifty best. He added a story of his own, giving the book fifty-one unique stories.
   So in February 2003, From the Heart: Stories of Love and Friendship landed in bookstores and readers couldn’t get enough of it!
   American literary heavyweight Pat Conroy hailed Bell’s book as “Just what America needs during these turbulent times.”
   Bell suddenly found himself in demand as an author and speaker.
   As Bell’s popularity grew with the book, Bell realized a second book might be warranted. So a second call for stories went out.
   “This time, I e-mailed writing groups around the nation,” Bell said. And again the response was tremendous. “I think I received about 1,600 stories this time.”
   So From the Heart 2: More Stories of Love and Friendship made its debut in May 2004.
   “This time we not only included stories, but several poems,” Bell said. “I wanted there to be something for everyone.”
   Bell has received many positive comments from readers.
   “One thing many readers find attractive is that they don’t have to read the book form cover-to-cover in one sitting,” he said. “Each story is different. There’s no single theme. There are stories of ‘how we met’ and ‘it was fate’. There’s even a story or two about a family dog.”
Bell said his goal was to give something to America to let the country know there are still good people out there. It appears he succeeded.


Praise for From the Heart

“To be able to read love stories that are unusual is such a treat. This will be a delightful coffee table book and certainly a conversation starter. “ —  Beverly Houseman, author of Rusty and Me,  and A Mother’s Story, and contributor to Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and Family Doctor.

“Too often, the only kind of love portrayed in today's literature is the romantic kind.  Being a part of Love Stories is an opportunity for writers from all over the country to share their stories of different kinds of love that have been so important in their lives.” —  Jaclyn Weldon White, author of Whisper to the Black Candle, The Empty Nursery and A Very Special Gift.

"I wanted to be included in Love Stories to show how love can be expanded even to those of our family who are not yet born! Sometimes we mistakenly think romance is the only form of love to be celebrated."  — Sheila S. Hudson,

author/contributor to Chocolate for Women series, God Allows U-Turns, Life's Little Rule Book and The Expressive Heart.

Love Stories grabs you by the heartstrings and won't let go. This book offers an extraordinary glimpse into the universal emotion of love. I'm proud to be a part of it. “— Shaunna Privratsky, author of the award-winning The Silk Robe and more than fifty articles and short stories appearing in print and on the Internet.

“I hope this book makes it around the world. Love is a global theme and you can’t write about a better subject.” — Roberta Beach Jacobson, contributor to three Chocolate Series books, her latest being Chocolate for a Woman’s Dreams (Simon and Schuster, 2001). Her essays also appear in Women Runners: Stories for Transformation (Breakaway Books, 2001) and Travelers’ Tales Greece (Travelers’ Tales Books, 2001).

"Kendall Bell's idea for a book of heartwarming love stories struck a chord.  With all that's going on in the world, it's the right time for such an optimistic book.  Vive l'amour!"   — Linda Jay Geldens, writer of  20+ feature stories and profiles for TV Technology, editor of Syllabus magazine and of book manuscripts for Random House and other publishers.

 “Many people of all ages will gain inspiration and comfort from these stories about relationships. Valuable insight is important to everyone interested in creating a better life for themselves and those whom they love.” — Marion Hanson Sadler, author of Death & Dying, Can a Mother Die of a Broken Heart, her first book.

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