Cville #Pride — My New Happy Place

I didn’t wanna go. I really, really didn’t want to go.

It was Saturday morning. We were expecting yucky weather all day thanks to Hurricane Florence, and I was thinking about how horrible it would be to stand outside in a tent in the rain trying to tell people why they should buy my book — all while attempting to keep said book safe and dry. Let’s face it: no one likes a soggy read.

So I debated skipping the whole thing. I’d already paid for the table, so that was water under the bridge at that point. (Pardon the hurricane-based humor, folks.) I couldn’t imagine that the weather would encourage people to attend, so not only would I be miserable, but how well could I really expect do in sales given the forecast?

But if I *didn’t* go, I was guaranteed not to sell anything.

It took just about everything in me to drag my lazy rear end to the car and make the 20-minute drive to Charlottesville. I kept telling myself, “I’ll just set up the table and stay for a little while. That gives me a chance to see how the turnout is. If it’s a ghost town, I’ll let myself leave early.” It gave me something to hold onto besides an umbrella.

I am so, so glad I went. Not only did it not rain, but it turned out to be my most successful event EVER. Crowds were there in droves despite the forecast. And I SOLD OUT OF BOOKS. I even sold more after I sold out, with people being willing to pay on the spot and let me ship them their book on Monday.

This was the one-year anniversary of launching my book, Who Am I If You’re Not You? Cville Pride was the first event where I sold books and I’ve spent the past 12 months marketing it near and far. A year of ongoing effort, care, thought, and persistence.

On Saturday, it all came home to roost. One attendee bought a copy last year and told me how glad she was to see that I’m still out there spreading the message. Several told me they’d heard about the book through this AMAZING video courtesy of HeartThreads. (If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s five minutes that will reaffirm your belief in love. I promise.) Some had seen the book in Barnes & Noble. Some had heard about it when I spoke on-air with WINA. Knowing that the marketing is working — that people are hearing about this book — made all the work worth it.

At Pride last year, I knew a couple of people but the vast majority were strangers to me. This year I saw so many friends I’ve had the fortune to meet over the past 12 months. And I met all kinds of new friends, people who represent every part of the community. Gay. Straight. Trans. Bi. Nonbinary. Asexual. Teens. Adults. Kids. Grandparents. It was a snapshot of life that day, and every encounter was about love, acceptance, and inclusion.

I couldn’t have been happier — not just because I sold so many books, but because it affirmed exactly why I wanted to write this story in the first place. The book is about love, and so is Cville Pride. Hats off to the organizers. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Charlottesville has more pride than hurricanes. And love? Never doubt it: we’ve got that in spades.

The Church Home I Wasn’t Looking For

As you probably know if you follow this blog with any regularity, I recently published aMMC nonfiction book titled, Who Am I If You’re Not You?  (What? You want to know more about it? Glad you asked. Here’s the website, and here’s an earlier blog post.) The book has been a great way to meet people, including at PrideFest in Richmond, VA, back in September. Two women each bought a copy of my book and said they’d like to introduce me to their pastor, each swearing he’d love it.

I smiled, thanked them, and thought, “Sure, he will.”

See, I grew up going to church. Voluntarily. My family wasn’t active in any church, but my best friend’s was, and since we were damn near inseparable, I went with her. It was a Southern Baptist church and I attended it for years–active in the choir, president of the youth group. I was immersed. And that was my framework of church for a long time.

It was a nice church, with nice people. When I got older, I attended various other churches for short periods of time, never really finding one that I felt was quite right for me. And after awhile I stopped looking. I came to the conclusion that the Bible, and all it stood for, didn’t necessarily contain everything I believed. My beliefs became more spiritual and less religion-based.

But there as another reason I stopped attending. I didn’t care for churches where there was so much ceremony – now it’s time to kneel, now it’s time to stand, now it’s time to find this hymn or that passage. I was self-conscious, afraid of making a mistake and looking foolish.

Now, back to the present. These two women I met through a book sale did, in fact, introduce me to their pastor and we arranged for me to attend two Wednesday night gatherings. From the moment I walked up to the front door that first Wednesday night, I knew this was no ordinary church. There was a homeless man sitting outside. And as I walked inside, there was another homeless man at the coffee pot, happily prattling away to himself. No one was shooing them away, or casting sideways glances. These two men were welcome here.

No less than three people came to greet me and offer hugs. These were strangers to me, but they acted like we were old friends. And I felt like we were! I experienced many surprising things that evening, like the pastor inviting everyone up for the prayer circle before we began — and inviting the homeless to join us in the circle! — and the most open, honest and candid conversation about LGBT issues I’ve ever had. We talked about it IN CHURCH. I was astonished (in a very, very good way).

See, church to me was where you put on your nice clothes and acted proper, said the right things and sang nice songs. God forbid you talked about homosexuality, sex, gender transition, or anything of the sort.

This church was a totally different story. People of all walks were welcome here, and FREE TO BE WHO THEY ARE. It was the most liberating, refreshing experience I’ve had in a very long time. Honestly, I marveled during the whole event, thinking, “This is what church is SUPPOSED to be. This is what Jesus must’ve had in mind.” It felt like home — the kind of home when you can be among family and friends and feel comfortable to burp if you need to (not that I heard anyone do so – but I bet if they’d needed to, they’d have felt like they could without judgement.) The kind of place where you could wear your jeans with holes (does that make them holy?) and no one would look askance. A place where you could just BE … and be accepted for it.

And that’s what church should be, right? A “sanctuary” without judgement? Where you can gather without fear of saying the wrong thing, or worry about what others think? Where the homeless are welcomed inside the walls AND the prayer circle?

In case you’re wondering, the church was the Metropolitan Community Church in Richmond, Virginia. If you’re near the area, I highly recommend you check it out. Truly, you’ll feel welcome. Tell Pastor Kenny – one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – I sent ya. And then let me know if you have the same reaction.

What’s your church experience like? Do you have a place like MMC? I’d love to hear your story!

And in case you’re interested, their website has some really interesting reading about homosexuality and the church. Here’s the link if you wanna see for yourself.

 

 

Gold before the Olympics begin

Feathered Quill logoThere is no way to say this without sounding like I’m bragging, so I’m just gonna say it:

I won a gold medal!

Well, okay, *I* didn’t win a gold medal, but the book I wrote did. That may be splitting hairs. I’m gonna go ahead and claim it!

I found out that “Who Am I If You’re Not You?” won first place for memoirs in the 2018 Feathered Quill Book Awards! I couldn’t be more proud, and not just because I can now call it an award-winning book, but because it’s resonating with readers. Here’s what the Feathered Quill judges had to say:

“This is a well-written memoir on a topic that people don’t see much of on the library/store/online book shelves. A must-read and valuable addition to LGBTQ collections. This book scored a perfect 100 from the cover to the content. Excellent job!”

That line – “a valuable addition to LGBTQ collections” – probably means the most to me. To feel that this story can make a difference for someone, that it merits space on their shelves, speaks volumes. It reinforces the belief I felt from the get-go: that this true story of one couple’s journey to love beyond gender was both unique and unusual. The more I researched, the more I realized just how special this real-life couple is, and I couldn’t wait to share their story with the world.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s available on the book’s website and at Amazon. And as of this month, it’s also at the Barnes & Noble store in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I’ll be doing a book signing this Saturday, 2/10, from noon until 2pm. If you’re in the area, please come by and celebrate with me!

LynnThorne-Cover-fqawardAnd this is a perfect chance for me to thank the uber-talented Liz Weaver of Paprika Creative for her fantastic cover. She’s the bomb! I mean, just LOOK at this cover she designed. Seriously, look at it, and then go to her site and see what other outstanding design work she’s done.

Thank you, Liz!

 

OrionWisdom and me

I’m so excited! As my book, Who Am I If You’re Not You? draws closer to launch, there’s all kinds of exciting things happening. Some of it has been planned for awhile, like my upcoming booksigning events at AFK Books in Virginia Beach, VA and at The Abbey in West Hollywood, CA. I’ve also been planning the Nov. 14 launch party at Over The Moon Books and Artisan Gallery in Crozet, VA for a couple of months.

But today I got a wonderful surprise when my book was reviewed/featured in this wonderful newsletter, OrionWisdom. Check it out and subscribe, if you’ve a mind to. Elisabeth Fitzhugh pens this digital newsletter full of thoughts to help you consider your personal spiritual perspective. I was delighted to be included in this month’s issue, and I continue to be humbled by those who believe in and support this book right alongside me. Thanks Elisabeth!

As I gear up for the launch, I’m looking for other ways to publicize this book. Who do you know who might be able to help its message reach those who need to hear it? Can you help me spread the word by sending out an email, or putting something on social media for me? Or maybe you’d consider sharing this blog with someone who’d be interested. I strongly believe someone, somewhere out there, needs to read this book and I want to make sure I’ve done everything I can to get it to them–but I also know I can’t do it alone. Thanks for helping me give this book wings to fly.

Here’s to our journey together. Cheers!

Where’s “Who Am I” now?

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I’m glad you asked!Option A

My book Who Am I If You’re Not You? is now available!

It’s the true story of one woman’s experience when her spouse changes gender. I’m extremely proud of this book because it presents the partner’s viewpoint, which hasn’t been well represented before now. There are a number of books out there that document what it’s like to be trans … but very few take into account what it’s like for the other half of the couple.

You can read more about it at www.whoamithebook.com.

Readers-Choice-Awards-circle-blue-n-gold-768x582

Help me win!

And hey, while you’re at it, maybe you’d consider voting for it! It’s up for an Independent Author award at TCK Publishing. Three steps to voting:

You’re awesome for doing so!!! (Actually, you’re awesome no matter what but this would really help me!)

The book has garnered some amazing reviews. Here’s just a bit of the feedback I’ve received so far:

“Once you start reading this book, you can’t stop.”

“Impressive, vivid, powerful, uncompromisingly honest. It made me cry and it made my heart sing.”

“A non-fiction page-turner, something of an anomaly in my reading experience. A true story, with true heart, told by a true writer.”

“Lynn captures the heart of Jen’s story well. I feel thankful to have read it.”

I hope you’ll consider supporting this book with an order (or two. The holidays are coming, you know).  I truly believe in my heart of hearts this story has the potential to help someone through their dark times, and will educate others who don’t understand what it means to transition.

Come and see me at the launch party! It’ll be held November 14, 2017, at Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery in Crozet, VA from 7-9.

 

Hats off to Cville Pride but not a stupid hat vendor

As if Charlottesville hasn’t had enough to deal with lately, the city’s Pride Festival is now the victim of discrimination.

The Festival organizers were working on merchandise orders, like this awesome purple shirt (in case you didn’t know it, I’m a tried and true purple fan). They also tried to order hats through a company called Legacy Athletics.

Notice I used the word “tried.”  Wanna know what they got in response to the order they placed?  This:

I am sorry for the delay, this is a design that we would not be able to produce.

While Legacy does offer custom logos, we also carefully nurture and protect our brand.  One of the ways we keep a positive connotation to the brand, is by avoiding doing any products with custom logos that might be deemed as controversial, political, offensive, etc.  This does not in any way mean that we either support or do not support the organization making the request, but the reality is that in light of recent events in Charlottesville as well as the fact Gay Pride events are political activism; we respectfully decline this order.  Again, I hope you can understand our position.

Ummm, sorry, no. I don’t understand your position. I understand you’re discriminatory.

So hats may or may not be part of Cville Pride Festival this year. You know who definitely will be? Me. I’ll be there with my book, and I’ll be prouder than ever to let my Ally flag fly.

I hope I’ll see you there, with or without a hat on.

I’d rather write than be pregnant

Birthing a book is like having a baby in a lot of ways. You carry it around inside of you for a reallllly long time, worrying about it, thinking about it, growing it. You agonize over what to name it. You think about what it will look like, and how amazing it will feel to hold it for the first time.

There are also other similarities. You can’t wait to share the news with others, excitedly talking about every aspect from the story to the cover to the promotion. Don’t forget about the labor pains, which involve waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be edited. For it to be laid out. For it to be printed. And when it’s finally “born,” it’s magical.

Thankfully, the waiting on this little project of mind is nearly over! I’d hoped to be able to launch Who Am I If You’re Not You? in October, but, like having a baby, sometimes it takes a little longer to be born.

I can share with you now that my book will launch on November 14!

That birthday is significant. It has nothing to do with being a Scorpio, and everything to do with it marking the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week. (Hint, if you didn’t already know what this story is about, it deals with trans issues.)

Want to know more? The book’s website is www.whoamithebook.com, and you can check out the prologue. I also feature it on my website, www.lynnthorne.com. Stay tuned to this blog to find out where you can get more sneak peeks at content in the coming months. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Even though the official launch isn’t until November, I will have copies in hand by Labor Day, which I’ll have available at CVILLE Pride Festival on September 16 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and at VAPrideFest in Richmond, Va on Sept. 23. If you’re in the area for either of those events, please stop by my booth and say hi!

You’ll also be able to order it from me directly after Labor Day. It won’t be available on Amazon or in bookstores until the launch, but I’ll be happy to fulfill any orders as soon as I have copies in my hand! Shoot me an email at Lynn@lynnthorne.com and I’ll gladly get you hooked up.

By the way, in case you were wondering, there is one VERY big difference between birthing a book and birthing a baby: when this baby is born, I won’t have to change a single diaper. Sorry, Pampers … your time has come and gone. (Insert “crappy” joke here.)