© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

A quick ten

Ten interesting bits about the book:

tom flynn
10. Say hello to Tom Flynn.

I just found out one of the pieces (one of my favorites) was left out of the Table of Contents: the point/counterpoint on Santa Claus between Tom Flynn and me. Tom (editor of Free Inquiry and marvelous guy) was incredibly gracious about the unfortunate and unintentional snub. If you have the book, turn right now to p.85 and dig in.
9. Borders has purchased only 78 copies of the book and planted them around the country to see how they sell before ordering more. Fetch, Gentle Readers! Fetch!
8. I asked Kurt Vonnegut — a literary and personal hero of mine — to write a piece for the book. He never answered my letter and is now with Jesus.

7. Michael Shermer’s excellent Foreword to the book refers to a priceless scene in the movie Parenthood: Keanu Reeves’ character (“that Tod”) bemoans the fact that you need a license to drive or catch a fish, but anyone can be a father. In his initial draft, Michael quoted the character verbatim:

“You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

It works beautifully coming out of Tod Higgins, but I had my doubts about a parenting book. As it turns out, all direct quotes from films must be cleared, and we had no time to get permission. So alas, ours did not become the first parenting book of all time to include the phrase “butt-reaming asshole” on the first page. The world will just have to wait for James Dobson’s next book for that.

church lady
6. When I picked Delaney up from her Lutheran preschool yesterday (the day after Laney shared my book for show and tell), her teacher pulled me aside to say (genuinely) how wonderful it all was — that I was so open about my beliefs, that I brought my kids to a church school instead of avoiding religious ideas, and that Laney was so unbearably proud of me. A great lady to whom this photo does no justice.

5. I just got the news that Barnes & Noble will not be stocking the book in their stores. This is NOT about the content — they just have to make decisions based on projected sales, so the book needs to prove itself. If we show them there’s a market, I’m sure they’ll jump on board. It’s all about the bucks.

mn sun
4. I did my first press interview this week for a small local paper and was so distracted by the incredible speed of the reporter’s laptop typing that I completely lost my train of thought. I type with the middle finger of my left hand and the first three fingers of my right. She uses at least six others. I continued yammering while my mind searched for the right simile — which turned out to be “like rain on a rubber roof” — then had to beg her pardon and start a sentence over. I’m mostly but not entirely sure I didn’t say, “My Dark Lord Satan shall guide my parenting with his cloven hoof” during the simile search. I guess we’ll see when the piece comes out on April 26.

3. The Minneapolis Star Tribune did a profile on me in the Faith and Values section of today’s paper. It’s a regular feature called “Believer,” and they apparently went back and forth a bit over whether to call mine “(Non)Believer.” In the end, it posed too many problems for the template, so they said, “Well, you do believe in things, just not God.” Okie doke.

2. We’re starting to work on small local tours before I permanently leave the Upper Midwest for the Lower Mid-Southeast. Madison WI and Mankato MN are in my sights at the moment.

1. PBB has received a FABULOUS review from Library Journal. This is one of the most important possible review venues, since a good review can ultimately lead to the acquisition of scads of books for libraries across the U.S. What? Oh, the review? If you insist:

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion.
AMACOM: American Management Assn. Apr. 2007. c.288p. ed. by Dale McGowan.

McGowan, a professor, freelance writer, and novelist, has collected essays from some of contemporary secularism’s big names, e.g., Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey, in support of those nonreligious American parents who seek to “articulate values, celebrate rites of passage, find consolation, and make meaning” sans religion. Contributor Ed Buckner writes that secular means “not based on religion” rather than “hostile to religion.” Though a few entries do evidence anger or resentment, it is clear that all of these astute essayists have thought carefully about God’s nonexistence. Most of the 30-odd contributors recommend imbuing children with the ability to think well independently; when pressured or rejected by real and figurative institutions that tend to favor the religious (e.g., schools, scouting, holidays), parents are advised to stick to their nontheistic guns. The book considers parents as pedagogues, recalling Deborah Stipek and Kathy Seal’s Motivated Minds: Raising Children To Love Learning. Engaging and down-to-earth, this collection balances the scores of religious parenting titles shelved in the average library and is highly recommended for large public libraries and parenting collections.
— Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford



This was written on Friday, 20. April 2007 at 22:28 and was filed under PBB, Uncategorized. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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Comments »

  1. Which do you think would be better? Emailing B&N about getting your book into the store? Or, going to the store and requesting the book for purchase?

    I’m not sure which choice they would put more “value” on, but I will be requesting your book in the St. Augustine, FL location tomorrow. Heck, I’ll email them too just in case…

    Comment: Mike Horn – 23. April 2007 @ 12:54 am

  2. Yes, both would be ideal. Thanks! Of the two, I’m guessing the email would have more effect. I don’t think the stores systematically report in-store requests up the chain unless there is a real deluge (if I may wax Noachic…)

    Comment: Dale – 23. April 2007 @ 8:40 am

  3. Ah 78 copies! 78…!

    Oh my!

    Comment: Ei – 23. April 2007 @ 9:38 am

  4. Isn’t that rich? They simply have no idea how many of us there are, even after Dawkins and Harris went gold! It would be funny if it weren’t so NOT.

    If nothing else, online retailers like Amazon have loosened the stranglehold traditional retailers have had on the publishing industry. We sold so fast on Amazon that it went to backorder within 48 hours, yet we don’t merit shelf space in the big two brick-‘n’-mortars.

    Comment: Dale – 23. April 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  5. Most of the book lovers that I know swear by amazon anyway. I haven’t stepped foot inside a B&M book store in forever. This is one more reason to boycott them. They should be ashamed “no market”!

    Comment: Amanda – 23. April 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  6. Aahh, but isn’t it going to be delicious when we succeed at last in revealing that market, in all its glorious breadth and depth? Disbelief is so marginalized that even the best of friends, neighbors, even close relatives of nonbelievers usually have no idea. Think about it: Polls put us at 14.1%. But for every one person courageous enough to tell a pollster s/he doesn’t believe, there must certainly be two who remain silent about it. AT LEAST. That, ladies and gents, would put us at more than 40% of the U.S. population. Every indication points to a hidden % at least that large. How would it change our cultural discourse if that were known?

    Okay, a blog entry is forming in me noodle… I need to talk about some of the amazing comings-out that have accompanied the book’s coming out….

    Comment: Dale – 23. April 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  7. What I sent to B&N:

    I was told that B&N would not stock the book “Parenting Beyond Belief” by Dale McGowan in their outlet stores because there was “no market” for this genre.

    To say there is “no market” for such a book you would have to ignore the recent successes of “The God Delusion” and “The End of Faith” which both peaked on the New York Times bestsellers list at #4.

    A recent Newsweek poll said that 10% of the U.S. population (That’s 30 million people) identify themselves as having “no religion”. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17879317/site/newsweek/)

    I ask that you reconsider your assessment of this book and add it to the inventory of your outlet stores to provide material for a market that is often ignored.

    Could you at least deliver a few copies to my B&N store?

    Store Location:
    1930 U.S. 1 South
    St. Augustine, FL 32086

    Thank you for your time.

    Mike Horn

    Comment: Mike Horn – 24. April 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  8. I just picked up one of the 78 copies of PBB available at Borders stores. Hopefully, if the test copies sell out fast enough it will encourage the corporate folks to put more out there (maybe on the prestigious “new paperbacks” table!?).

    My copy wasn’t easy to find; it was hidden on the top shelf among the oversized parenting books. For anyone else intent on drying up the current supply at Borders, the spine of the book is about 3/4 of an inch wide and red (like the stripe across the upper part of the front cover).

    Comment: Steelman – 24. April 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  9. Great work, Mike and Steelman!

    Hey, did I mention that five of the Borders books contain Golden Tickets…?

    Comment: Dale – 24. April 2007 @ 4:56 pm

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