BOOK TOUR JOURNAL 15
IT’S ALL ORGANIC
As of this writing, one post on my FB book page had gained a reach of 2,216. That number far outreaches any other entry I’ve ever posted. It’s the one that announced that Q Spirit named To Drink from the Silver Cup as a "Top 35 LGBTQ Christian Book of 2016." It all happened through an organic chain of events.
April, 2016: I meet Kristin Kobes Du Mez, chair of Calvin College’s History Department at my table in the Exhibition Hall at Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing. We make a nice connection, in part because her grandfather (or possibly great uncle) was an old-time missionary I knew in the Navajo Nation. More importantly, we connect because Dr. Du Mez is open to other aspects of my book. When I get home, I write to ask her if she will endorse my book. I want very much to get an endorsement from someone connected with Calvin. She is in the thick of writing a book on Hillary Clinton’s faith and apologizes for not having time to read my book and write an endorsement. But she asks a publication she’s associated with to write a review. As an afterthought, she mentions Christian Feminism Today as a publication I might want to ask to review the book.
In the meantime Julia Smith, the Sexuality Series Director at Calvin College, puts out an announcement that an acquaintance of hers is looking for older LGBTQ people to interview for a film about our experiences with church in the olden days. Wait! Am I older? Indubitably. I immediately write to Kristyn Komarnicki, telling her a bit about my experience and the fact that I’ve written a memoir that addresses her documentary topic.
Kristyn writes back right away that she would definitely like to interview me and also would like to know if I’d like to be part of a dialogue process called “Oriented to Love,” whose aim is “to build unity in the church amidst theological diversity.” I apply (a rather lengthy process) to participate in the dialogues, and we agree that I can be interviewed for the film at the Gay Christian Network Conference I’ll be attending in Pittsburgh in January.
Minutes after my communication with Kristyn, I get an email from an associate of hers, Marg Herder, Communications Director for Christian Feminism Today. It seems Kristyn alerted her, and Marg must have read the excerpt from To Drink from the Silver Cup on my website, because she’s very enthusiastic about how my story parallels her own. She wants the magazine to review my book. Kristin du Mez’s earlier mention of the publication lets me know that a reviewer from this journal will likely come to my book from a favorable perspective. Moreover, it turns out that Marg knows Kristin Du Mei who spoke at their conference last year.
Marg also invites me to write for Christian Feminism Today. I mail her a review copy of my book and take a look at the online magazine. The articles seem fairly academic, not something I’m drawn to writing. But I feel that I could write a book review and I suggest that I do one on Ruth Tucker’s book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. That’s a go. Then comes an invitation that I offer a copy of To Drink from the Silver Cup as a raffle item at the Women’s Retreat at the Gay Christian Network Conference. This means name recognition, which I hope will result in increased visits to my vending table.
November 17: The review of To Drink from the Silver Cup is published in Christian Feminism Today. To my surprise, the reviewer is Dr. Virginia Mollenkott–a big name in progressive Christian circles. She is a heroine to many older gay Christians as the coauthor of Is the Homosexual My Neighbor: Another Christian View. In 1978, this book’s groundbreaking first edition was one of the earliest affirming theological examinations of the issue that is still up for grabs in so many evangelical circles. It is the book that I mailed to my entire family, believing that if any book could help to change their minds about me and my sexuality, this would be it. It is a big deal that Mollenkott is the reviewer.
Her review catches the eye of Kittredge Cherry, who spends all year seeking the best in LGBTQ Christian literature and also writes about LGBTQ saints throughout history (I love that) on her blog/newsletter, Q Spirit. She announces the publication of To Drink from the Silver Cup in complimentary terms. She also recommends the book to an Amazon Vine Reviewer. I have to look that up, and it turns out that Trudie Barreras (from Albuquerque, no less) is a Top 1000 Reviewer on Amazon. I start Facebooking with both bibliophiles and learn that Trudie will indeed be reviewing my book.
Then, an even bigger surprise—Kittredge’s Q Spirit lists To Drink from the Silver Cup in the “Memoir” section of the Top 35 Christian LGBTQ Books of 2016. That listing leads to the reach of 2,216 in fewer than 48 hours–without me paying Facebook for a Boost. I can hardly wait to see what happens with the Amazon Vine Review.
I LOVE ORGANIC!
PS I believe this is a first--a postscript to one of my blog entries. That is how fast things are moving–great organic compost! The Amazon review went up minutes after I wrote this. Trudie Barreras uses phrases like, "brilliantly rendered" to describe it. Check out her review on the top link on the "Works" page for To Drink from the Silver Cup.
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