After several of Bret Lott's books met with critical success, Oprah Winfrey made his latest, Jewel, one of her book club selections. That's a big break for any writer. Bret, a college professor, and his wife, Melanie, who works at home as Bret's assistant, have been married 19 years. They have two sons, Zebulun, 16, and Jacob, 13.
We met when: I showed up in Bret's college-career Sunday school class in Huntington Beach, California, after moving from New Jersey.
We were drawn to each other because: we both loved going to the movies and playing volleyball. Bret was so friendly and such a gentlemen. And he thought I was different from the California girls he had been dating—more confident and fun-loving.
What I appreciate about Bret is: he is totally straightforward, a real straight-shooter. You always know where you stand with him.
What I appreciate about Melanie is: she's sensible and she keeps things organized when everything is nuts.
Our biggest argument was over: finances. We almost declared bankruptcy a few years ago, and we had to sell our dream house. We got debt-free and put our financial life in order, and then Oprah Winfrey called.
Which leads to our biggest surprise: the telephone call from Oprah telling us she had chosen Jewel for her book club. I'm a professor, and the success of that book has eased a lot of financial pressure. It has been a great blessing and allowed us to be a blessing to other people.
No one would ever guess that: our arguments are really loud. We are both headstrong and believe that love means going to the mat and communicating when you have a problem. Good always comes out of it.1