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President Obama Talked to Me About My Book!

Dreams do come true–it’s one of my mantras. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to meet the President of the United States. It took several decades, but it finally happened. I met the President of the United States, Barack Obama. And even more special–I met his lovely wife, our First Lady, Michelle Obama. I’d planned to have my first blog from our new posting to be about where we’ve transferred (Moscow, Russia) , the culture here (incredibly different, challenging, and exhilarating),  my take on it (I’m awed). But one of my childhood dreams has come true, so this is my blog about meeting President and Michelle Obama. We are stationed in Moscow as my husband works at the American Embassy. The President’s visit was announced well before we left the States in June, and I’d hoped I’d get a chance to see him, maybe shake hands. Most of all I really wanted my children to see him. The first great surprise was that Michelle Obama was coming to see us, too. I’ve been following her interest in military families and thought “great! what a chance to thank her for her support.” Should I write a note? Bring flowers? No, I’m a writer–so I brought my book. I would have brought my February 2009 release, What Family Means, but it was in my household goods shipment which hadn’t arrived yet. I did fortuitously have one copy left of my first book, A Rendezvous to Remember with me, thanks to several friends back in the States who requested copies before I left for Russia. I said a prayer and signed the book to Michelle Obama. If I couldn’t get it past security, at least I’d known I’d tried. I’m a HUGE believer in positive thinking, by the way. I wrote an inscription with a sincere heart, and then let go of the outcome–if I could give her my book and say “thank you,” wonderful.

Official White House Photo. All other snapshots on this page: Kristi Stephens. Bottom photo inset created by Waxcreative Design, Inc.

The families who wanted to meet with the President and First Lady had to go through security and wait for nearly 3 hours under a large white tent on the embassy grounds. Presidential schedules are always in flux. At one point I wondered if the event would be canceled–I knew the President had more events to attend in Moscow that evening. Fortunately for all of us who waited, the President and First Lady did arrive and were announced to us by the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. After a brief informal speech, the President and Mrs. Obama stepped off the stage and came around to shake hands. It was soooo exciting to realize that yes, we might all have a chance to shake their hands. But then their staff started looking a little antsy (wouldn’t you if you had to keep the President on schedule and it was already 3+ hours behind?). I looked at a fellow spouse and said “what should I do, do you think I should wait and see if Michelle gets to us?” She didn’t hesitate and replied “I think you should take the first opportunity that comes your way.” The President shook my daughter’s hand, then my son’s, then our friend’s daughter (you can see her with the braids). And then–I put out my hand with my book and handed it to President Obama. I had a moment of  “uh-oh” as his eyes narrowed and I thought for sure he would say “thanks, but no thanks,” or just hand it off to his assistant, the “body man” Reggie. But then the President smiled, a big, wide smile, and held up my book. “This looks sexy!” He raised his eyebrows as he challenged me. “No, it’s not that sexy–it’s a World War II romance. I signed it for Michelle.” At this point I was flabbergasted that the President was talking–to me. And I didn’t want to embarrass my kids–since they’ve become teenagers, it’s easily done. The President read the back flap, looked at the cover again, then started thumbing through the book.  Thank goodness several other people took photos, the ones posted here. We chatted some more which really involved the President laughing and teasing in the nicest manner, and then I shook his hand and thanked him for his service. He’d handed my book to his body guy, Reggie, who started paging through it and looking at my business card. He had an expression of “who is this chick?” on his face. I elbowed my friend and showed her what was happening. Without hesitation, she shouted out, “Hey Reggie, do you want your own copy?” Reggie looked up and gave us a broad smile. I waved and said “I wrote it–I’m an Academy grad.” His eyes grew big “You are?” I laughed and nodded “yes.” Within moments, Michelle Obama came by, and I let her know that I had a gift for her, my book, but the President had it. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll get it back from him.” I got my chance to thank her for supporting military families, and she looked so humbled. “You know we love you guys.” Her voice was sincere and her statement simple. She thanked my kids for being part of a military family, which they thought was cool as ever. She spent time with all of the children there, big and small, and made a very positive impression. This was exactly one week ago. It took me three days to come off of the emotional “high” I was on. My kids were so excited. My dear, supportive husband? He was there, but when the President and Michelle started to meet and greet, he got called away by his cell phone ringing. He was one of the worker bees for the visit, and it was only luck that he was able to come out for the event at all. By the way, you can see the top of my head in the second photo (which is an official White House photo–the others are snapshots), just behind the lady with her face in her hand. Do you think I’m inspired to keep working on my story set in Russia?

50 Comments •• Please Post Your Own Comment »

  1. Geri, this is so very cool! When I lived in DC I got to work the Inaugural Ball at the Kennedy Center for Clinton’s second term. The closest I got to the First Couple was about twenty feet away while they were on stage and that in and of itself was exhilarating. I cannot imagine getting a handshake and a conversation like yours… SO COOL!! You will never forget this, I’m sure!

  2. Geri!!!
    I am so thrilled for you and for Romance! Way to go. You could have very easily talked yourself out of doing this, but YOU DID IT!
    I am so happy for you.
    Diane

  3. Great Geri,
    So glad to hear of your success! Wow, got to meet President and Mrs. Obama!! Living in Russia, also Awesome. Take Care.
    Dawn
    PS. Saw Mr. McDonald from Maryvale at an alumni picnic and he remembers your stories! He said he will check out your website!

  4. Congratulations, Geri. This is so wonderful for you as well as for all of us who write and read the genre. Thanks for blazing the trail…all the way to The White House!

  5. Wow! Abi, Emily, Sheila, Deb, Stefani,Diane, Maudeen, Jenny, Dawn, Pam, Hope and Gannon–
    You gals rock! Thanks so much for all the support, and for sharing such a bedrock moment with me. Only those of us who joyfully write and read romance appreciate the significance of this. I’m still on an emotional high, and it’s been 3 weeks now.

  6. Geri, This is awesome. I am sooo proud of you and soooo happy that your dreamssss are coming true. You have worked hard for this girl. Love you, Cheryl

  7. Geri – tried to send this via email, but it kept getting bounced …

    Congratulations on getting your book into the hands of the President and First Lady — that is outstanding! I will have to add your book to my list of books I want to read 🙂

    I read with interest that you are a graduate of USNA – so are my husband and brother (’83 and ’85). We were in Annapolis in September for his 25th reunion. I always love going back there!

  8. This story made my day. I promoted it at my blog after seeing it on Dear Author. I have to order some of your books just so I can say I read what the President touched!

    Congratulations on the experience and the press!

  9. This is just too wonderful, Geri…congrats to you!! To think I sat next to the author who shook hands with the President & First Lady (remember, NEC 2009?) Look forward to seeing a fellow RomVet in Nashville!

  10. Congrats to you on achieving a dream! It’s really cool you met him. I really like the picture of him with your book!

  11. Wow, Geri! This is so cool! We’re so excited for you over at the Harlequin loop. You followed your dream, wrote your book, and matched it with that other goal. Wow, again!

    And enjoy your new posting. Sounds like lots of story ideas for you there.

  12. Geri,
    Just wanted to say a big congratulations on fulfilling a dream and promoting Romance!
    You go, girl!!!
    I wish you all the best in Moscow! And everything good with your writing! May this blast you into the best seller orbit…I’ll be back in Matera this September, wishing you were with me up on that stage again. 🙂

  13. I found my way here today after a few posts at the HQ loop. This is so exciting! I’m thrilled for you to have the chance to meet the President and First Lady AND to get to have a conversation like that with them AND give them your book too! How cool is that!

    Meeting the Pres is a dream of mine I hope to fulfill someday too. But I’ll leave the novel writing to you and all the other amazing romance authors out there! LOL 😉

  14. Dear Cheryl, Susan, Liz, Christyne, Wayne, Laura, Michelle, Ann,Tessa, Nicola,Judy, Mary, Kelley and Jillian–
    I’m in awe of all of you taking the time to read my post and share this with me. I must say my first impressions of Moscow are, well, impressive!

  15. Geri:
    I love the video! I am so excited for your adventures in Russia. I knew that ideas would be spawned from the rich culture and history there. Miss you much!
    Mary

  16. Geri, thanks for sharing this. What a great story. And how cool to know the President, Michelle & I all have such good taste in books and authors.

    You always have such a positive, can-do attitude. It’s a powerful thing. 🙂

  17. What a wonderful opportunity for you and your family! Congratulations, Geri! Let’s hear it for romance!

    Barb

  18. Wow! I had read about this in The Huffington post but your post on it brings a tear to my eye. It’s so good to know that dreams do still come true. I’m so happy for you.

  19. Wow, what a thrill! I really enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures… made me feel like I was there. It also gave me an interest in your books 🙂 I wouldn’t be surprised if Michelle reads it and writes to you about it.

  20. Wow – how awesome is that? If everyone trying to decide whether or not to vote for Barrack Obama in 2012 could read that, he’d win by a landslide. I love Barrack and Michelle – I think they are awesome, genuine, sincere people – and your post just goes to show that. He stopped in the middle of his busy schedule to have a real down-to-earth conversation with you – as did Michelle. Who does that? May I send this posting to some of my friends?

  21. Read about your books in “Navy Times.” Almost finished with “navy Orders.” Being a retired CWO I just love the book and have went to Amazon and bought Navy Rules>”

  22. Hi Boyd–
    Thanks so much for your kind words, I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Whidbey Island Series! I worked with many Warrants during my short 9 yr Navy career, and my husband did during his 27 yrs, too. My intent for these books is to highlight the “real” Fleet and your comment means a lot. Thanks so much for your service and I hope retirement is all you dreamed of and more!

  23. That’s so cool, Geri! I’d love to meet the President, too. Hope you are enjoying your time in Moscow. My husband goes there on business, but with the sanctions, that has stopped. I was hoping to go with him one of these trips. Haven’t been to Moscow in decades.

    Love your books! Stay warm!

  24. Thanks, Kathleen. Actually, this post was written several years ago–we’ve been back in the States for over 3 years now. Russia was indeed a very interesting, beautiful place to live for a while!

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