Nine years ago – April 2008 – was a happy time for me. My first book had been accepted by a publisher, and I was thrilled. Writing professionally had been a dream since I was a teenager. At the publisher’s suggestion, I embarked on some “pre-publicity” efforts, including querying magazines for articles on the book’s topic.

As part of this endeavor, I decided to write a piece for my favorite news organization, then called WorldNetDaily. I was a faithful reader and had a decent grasp of what kind of guest material they might like. I wrote a column, then wrote a cover email explaining my modest credentials, including the proud news that I would soon have a book in print.

I literally – and I mean literally – had my finger hovering over the “send” button on my computer when the phone rang. I removed my finger, answered the phone, and my happy little bubble exploded.

The call was from my agent, who informed me the publishers had dropped my book. I was in shock. My long-held hopes of being a writer were dashed right before my eyes. My husband offered me a sympathetic shoulder, and I sobbed on it for hours.

It wasn’t until much later I realized I never got around to sending the guest column to WND. But now I had to alter the cover letter. No longer could I say I had a book being published. That door had been firmly slammed shut. I was back to being just what I always was: a rural Idaho housewife with no writing credentials to speak of. What was I thinking, sending a guest column to an organization like WND? I would be laughed out of the room.

But I mopped my eyes and sent it anyway. At that point, what did I have to lose? Clearly rejection was nothing new.

Within an hour of sending off the column, I received an email from an editor wanting to know two things: 1) Was this an exclusive column (meaning, had it been published elsewhere)? and 2) could I trim it to 1,000 words? I replied Yes and Yes, and WND accepted it.

“Write another,” my husband urged right away. I did, and sent it in the following week. They accepted it within an hour of sending.

“Write another,” my husband urged yet again. I did, and sent it in. But this time I heard nothing – nothing – for three days. That’s it, I thought. Another door slammed shut.

And then a window, a glorious window of blue sky, bright sunshine and singing birds, opened wide. I received an email from the editor asking if I would like to be a regular columnist with WND.

Dear readers, I can’t even begin to tell you what that opportunity meant to me.

The blessings and recognition that came with being a regular columnist with WND has never ceased. Over the years, more writing opportunities outside WND came pouring in through that open window – magazines, books, ebooks, online articles, speaking engagements, my blog – and it hasn’t stopped yet. WND Books even published my book.

Maybe I should back up a bit and explain what it takes for a novice writer to become established. Writers typically don’t have a lightning stroke of luck that catapults them into fame and fortune. Instead, most writers have years, sometimes decades, of rejection and futility and frustration and failure under their belts. I was no exception.

What happened that day in April 2008 is that WND gave me – a plain ordinary rural housewife with no political credentials, no platform, no following, no relevant educational background and no experience – the opportunity of a lifetime.

Over the past nine years, I’ve found this isn’t unusual for WND. It’s the kind of organization that willingly offers platforms to both the famous and the obscure. They aren’t afraid to take chances, to step on a few toes, to create opportunities, or even to tick people off.

WND is innovative in so many respects. It tackles issues often not found in the mainstream media. Frequently, it shines the bright spotlight of journalistic coverage on the hushed dark whispered subjects others are afraid to touch because of political correctness or editorial cowardice.

Because WND reflects many views contrary to the mainstream media, it is frequently lambasted, mocked, scorned, ridiculed and dismissed by those who don’t like to see their progressive monopoly challenged. But despite the censure, WND continues to grow. Week by week, month by month, year by year, it attracts more and more readers who are tired of the same old bleating drivel in the media and want fresh, frank reporting and commentary.

WND celebrated 20 years in operation this week. It has many “firsts” to its credit, starting with being the first Internet-only news organization. Several writers who started exclusively with WND went on to become nationally syndicated columnists, including David Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Chuck Norris and of course Joseph Farah.

And WND was the first to offer this grateful writer – remember, I’m just a rural housewife with no credentials to speak of – a weekly national platform for socio-political commentary. Nine years later that opportunity still staggers me. They’ve never let me down. It’s no wonder WND inspires the loyalty it does.

I’ve gotten to know quite a few people behind the scenes at WND over these years, and with all honesty I can say I’ve never met a single soul I haven’t liked enormously. WND has a crew of dedicated, passionate people who, in the pressure-cooker of constant information turmoil, work their butts off to bring you news and commentary every single day … news you don’t even have to pay for (think about that next time you’re inclined to gripe about advertising!). WND keeps its articles, its opinion pieces, its commentary and even its advertisers as clean and family-friendly as possible, while tackling subjects that are often disturbing, ugly and ominous.

The credit for WND’s success cannot be solely attributed to its staff, phenomenal as they are. The credit must also be shared with you, the reader. After all, a news organization without readers is dead. Thanks to you, WND is very much alive and growing.

When God closed that door back in April 2008, I had no idea what would happen next. My writing career seemed destined to die before it was even born. But God had plans. He opened a window, and He opened it wide. WND stepped in through that window, and it’s no exaggeration to say my life has never been the same since.

I am pleased to offer my congratulations to WND for 20 years of fine news reporting, nine of which I’ve been privileged to share.

Media wishing to interview Patrice Lewis, please contact media@wnd.com.

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