Friday, March 23, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 29

In Chapter Twenty-Eight, Wyatt comes out on his blog Sunday night, and freaks out early morning Monday. There's no taking it back, and now everyone at school is going to know he's gay. Wyatt goes to Martin for help, and gets some advice he would never have predicted.

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Nine!

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Chapter 29
Monday February 2
            The ‘Lincoln Was Great – Lincoln Was Straight!’ yard sign on the way to pick up Mackenzie felt like a slap in the face the first time, but by the third one Wyatt was feeling numb. By the tenth one on the way to school he told himself he had to stop counting. He was on number thirteen when his mom made the turn onto Polk Street.
His mom was so happy Wyatt and Mackenzie had made up that she hadn’t stopped talking from the moment Mackenzie got in their truck, wearing a new sweater and dress outfit. “… two more weeks of these detentions? I don’t see why Rhonda couldn’t get you out of them. Something about respecting the Principal’s authority on the little things to help him save face, but really, it’s so unfair!”
 “Mackenzie, did you know your profile’s been offline?”
“Yeah.” Mackenzie said. “I needed a break.”
“Hmm. I hear you. I wish it wasn’t part of my job.” Wyatt’s mom snorted. “But then, I don’t know how much longer I’ll have that, so I shouldn’t complain!”
Busy merging into the drop-off line while talking, Wyatt’s mom didn’t see it. But Wyatt spotted it through the drizzle, and elbowed Mackenzie to check out the latest graffiti: blue spray-paint had added a line to their school sign so it read,
Lincolnville High School
Home of the Fighting Soldiers
No Queers Allowed!
            “I bet no one gets in trouble for that,” Wyatt muttered. Mackenzie didn’t disagree.
            “All right, have a great day, you two!” Wyatt’s mom pulled to a stop in the drop-off zone, and her voice was so cheery Wyatt knew for sure she had no clue what he had done.
            His eyes slid to the School Rock,
was still there. Nine days and counting. But they’d erased the truth in just a few hours.
            He got out and shut the truck door behind them, waving as his mom pulled away.
“Thanks, Liz!” Mackenzie called.
Wyatt pivoted to face the school and said low to Mackenzie, “Here goes nothing.”
“I’m going to be like Yoda on Luke Skywalker’s back.” Mackenzie assured him as they started for the entrance.
Star Wars? He gave her a what’s-up-with-that? look.
She shrugged it off. “No one’s going to do anything to you. I promise.”
* *
At lunch, Wyatt sat with Mackenzie, Jennie, and some of the other girls Mackenzie had rallied into Wyatt’s personal bodyguards. There was at least one of them in each of his classes, and Mackenzie had even promised to sit in on every detention with him so Wyatt wouldn’t be alone at school at all. She’d even figured out a way to be there in his P.E. class that morning with a camera, ostensibly for the yearbook. It had been enough to keep Coach Rails and Jonathon and everyone else in line.
Wyatt was grateful, but kind of embarrassed, too.
As long as he didn’t have to pee, he’d be fine. He pushed his chocolate milk away and took another bite of his dry leftover-chicken sandwich. He could drink when he got home.
Jonathon passed their table.
Mackenzie had just taken a big bite of pasta and looked like she wanted to say something to Jonathon, but before she could, he sneered at Wyatt, “Fag.”
Wyatt pretended to stare at his milk, but he was ready to run for it.
Mackenzie finished chewing and stood up, dabbing her lips with a napkin. “Jonathon, we need to talk.” She took him by the arm and led him to the side of the cafeteria.
Wyatt watched them, wishing they weren’t out of earshot. There was a lot of arm movement as they talked back and forth. Mackenzie crossed her arms. Jonathon got mad, and then calm. And then he reached out to touch her but she stepped back and turned and saw Wyatt watching them. She gave him a confident nod, then swiveled back to Jonathon. A minute later she was striding back across the cafeteria to Wyatt and the girls.
When she sat down, she said, “That’s taken care of.”
            “What did the jerk say?” Wyatt asked.
            “He’s not a jerk. He’s just… acting out because he’s afraid of what he doesn’t understand.”
            “Well, I don’t understand him but you don’t see me making his life miserable.”
            “Remember…” Mackenzie started, but checked first to see if anyone was listening. Jennie was busy talking with the other girls about starting up a math club that could visit elementary schools and change the whole ‘girls are bad at math’ myth. “Promise you won’t tell?”
            “Remember how much Jonathon loved Star Wars stuff? Back in third grade? Remember how we all got along?”
            “He wasn’t mean back then.”
            “Wyatt.” She lowered her voice. “You have to imagine that he’s still the same kid – he still loves Luke Skywalker, and C3PO, and R2D2, and pretending to save the Universe.”
            Wyatt snorted, not buying it.
            “Really.” Mackenzie insisted. “I was in his room – his bathroom, and he has all these action figures hidden there, in the toilet tank. Like a diorama. Luke saving Princess Leah.”
“So what?”
“He’s hiding it! They have a nine-thousand square foot house, and the only place he can be himself – the only place he can like what he really likes – is inside this tiny shoebox-sized toilet tank!”
“So that’s what the Yoda reference was about?” Wyatt asked.
“It’s been on my mind.” She looked back across the cafeteria at Jonathon, just as Charlie gave him a punch to the arm. “Maybe we need to think of him as a sci-fi nerd trapped in a cool kid’s life.”
Wyatt made a face. “Are you saying I’m supposed to feel sorry for him?”
Mackenzie shook her head. “I just want you to know that, on the inside, he’s still this good little kid, who just needs to find his way to the outside. So, you see? I talked to him, and it’s going to be fine.”
            Wyatt looked over at Jonathon, who was laughing with his sharks at something – or someone. “And you believe him?”
            Mackenzie unconsciously touched her fingertips to her lips. “I do.”
With a start, she moved her hand away, fast. When Wyatt turned back around a second later, she was busy twirling spaghetti around her fork.
* *
            After detention, which Mackenzie announced was ‘a lot like study hall,’ she and Wyatt walked to the B&B. When they got there, Wyatt told Martin how Mackenzie saved the day at school. Maybe saved every day, going forward.
Martin sang Mackenzie this corny “I’m Sorry” song to some tango melody on his guitar. It had been the first time he’d seen her since the séance.
When he finished, Mackenzie said, “Let’s just… move on.”
            Martin stared at the guitar in his hands. “Thanks.”
Wyatt couldn’t help grinning as the two biggest people in his life made up. He leaned close to Martin, and whispered, “Can we tell her about the parade? Please?”
“Sure.” Martin said. “She’s earned it.”
            Once they had explained, Mackenzie jumped in feet first, getting them organized with a chart of printed-out pages taped above the B&B’s living room fireplace. The final list was 262 organizations, and by 5 p.m. the three of them and Wyatt’s dad had made eighty-two calls in all. They were up to seven yesses, one maybe and another We’re not sure but we’ll get back to you. They had to get through the list this week – the parade was only twelve days away, and no one would be able to come at the last minute.
            His dad left the room to call Wyatt’s mom with an update, and Wyatt and Martin hung out while Mackenzie worked out the math. She ran down the numbers for them, “If we make forty-five calls a day for the next four days, we’ll do it. And if we can get four yesses a day, it will give us twenty-three entries total, three more than the bare minimum…”
Wyatt put his arm, friend-like, around Martin’s shoulders as he finished the thought for her, “…and we’ll have a parade.”
His arm stayed there as Martin said, “Forty-five calls a day? That’s fifteen each. Less if your dad helps.”
Mackenzie put out her fist for them to stack their hands. “We can totally do it.”  
“Go team us.” Martin said, putting his hand on hers.
Wyatt added his hand on top. He swallowed hard. “We have to.”
* *
Wednesday February 4
             “You can? Great! That’s great!” Martin hooted as hung up, wrote ‘YES!’ on the phone-bank spreadsheet and bent down to the dry erase board Mackenzie had brought over. He erased the big ‘12’ and wrote ‘13.’ “Lucky Thirteen!” Wyatt put up his hand and they high-fived.
On a call herself, Mackenzie shivered, jotted down ‘Let’s get to 14 fast!,’ and held the pad up for Wyatt, his dad and Martin to see. She spoke into her cell phone. “Yes, this February fourteenth… It’s not a lot of notice, no.”
Rhonda was on another case up in Seattle, and Wyatt’s mom had just left the living room to grab today’s mail. The Mayor had made her wash down all the folding plastic Rails Realty signs yesterday, insisting she do it while she was all dressed up, and Wyatt’s mom was still angry about her ruined clothes. She’d emailed Mayor Rails to say she was working from home today, and she’d told Wyatt’s dad that she wasn’t going to check for a response until late tonight. Wyatt thought it was a lot like what he’d done to avoid school but didn’t say it. Why kick her when she was down?
Martin’s was their second ‘yes’ today, ‘Northwest Disability Rights.’ And Wyatt’s dad had gotten this gay-family-and-friends group from Philomath, PFLAG, to come, too.
“Nicely done.” Wyatt’s dad said to Martin, and they high-fived, too.
Wyatt watched them, thinking it was kind of wonderful.
Wyatt’s mom came in with a stack of mail, five envelopes on top. “More donations!”
“We’re on a roll, Liz.” Wyatt’s dad gave her the news.
“So that means we need only two more yesses today?” Wyatt’s mom asked, checking the board.
“Yeah.” Wyatt said.
“We thought it would be an opportunity…” Mackenzie twisted a lock of short hair as she talked on her cell. “But this is for a really good–” she stopped. “I understand. Thank you for your time.” She hung up and put an ‘X’ next to ‘Albany College Marching Band.’
It turned out they’d told her what the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Bend, Oregon had just told Wyatt. That if they’d known months ago, they might have been able to make it work. But at least they had wished them well.
Wyatt checked the sheet for the next number and dialed. When they answered, he said, “Yeah, hi! I was wondering if Fight Anti-Semitism Now! has a group that can march in local parades?”
* *
            At 4:58 p.m. Mackenzie got the ‘Asian Pacific Islander Women’s Color Guard’ confirmed, which got them up to sixteen entries – one ahead of schedule. They even had three rooms booked for the parade weekend.
            As Mackenzie circled ‘16’ on the board, Wyatt’s mom asked, “Do we have any floats yet?”
            Wyatt shook his head. “None of our yesses have the money to build one.”
            “Or the time.” Mackenzie added.
            Wyatt’s dad thought for a moment. “Maybe we can turn our pickup into a float. After all…”
            Wyatt and Martin looked at each other, and then all five of them said it at the same time, “We have Lincoln!”
            That was the moment Wyatt felt a glimmer of real hope. They were going to pull this off.
* *
Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill Blog
Blog Post: Saturday, February 7, 10:19 a.m.
Two-Nights-For-One Special!
Coming to Lincolnville, Oregon for the Lincoln’s Birthday/Valentine’s Day
All People* Are Created Equal
*No Exceptions
Parade February 14
Stay at the
Lincoln Slept Here Bed & Breakfast
Experience our
Cozy rooms with period furnishings
Old-time hospitality
And let your taste buds travel back in time as they enjoy our
Civil War-Era Supper!
Book your room now and get our special two-nights-for-one rate!
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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here. Ready for Chapter Thirty? It will be posted on March 30, 2018. Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter, or instagram. Don't miss a chapter - you can sign up to follow this blog and get emailed every post! Just enter your email at the top of the left column. Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Stormwater Drains in Canberra - A Gay Teen Aims To Be A 'Sex Pioneer' In This Global Odyssey

The Stormwater Drains in Canberra by Paul Johan Karlsen

Consumed by pubescent desires, Kurt Larsen, a resourceful Norwegian boy, wants to speed up his sexual coming of age. Taking matters in his own hands, Kurt secretly opens a mailbox at the local post office and, posing as an adult, begins to take out personal ads in porn magazines. From there, little goes according to his master plan. 'The Stormwater Drains in Canberra' is a story of friendship and loneliness, of striking the right balance between privacy and secrecy, and above all, of learning how to love. In this international coming-of-age story, the narrator, a modern-day Peer Gynt, looks back on the events that unfolded from the time he was fourteen until he turned twenty-one.
This coming of age novel received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was named one of their Best Books of 2016. Add your review of "The Stormwater Drains in Canberra" in comments!

Monday, March 19, 2018

To This Day - A Spoken Word Poem, An Anti-Bullying Project, A Rallying Cry... And An Illustrated Book

To This Day by Shane Koyczan

An authentic rallying cry for anyone who has been affected by bullying. In February 2013, Shane Koyczan's passionate anti-bullying poem To This Day electrified the world. An animated video of the lyric narrative went viral, racking up over 12 million hits to date and inspiring an international movement against bullying in schools. Shane later performed the piece to sustained applause on the stage of the 2013 annual TED Conference. Now this extraordinary work has been adapted into an equally moving and visually arresting book. Thirty international artists, as diverse as they are talented, have been inspired to create exceptional art to accompany To This Day. Each page is a vibrant collage of images, colors and words that will resonate powerfully with anyone who has experienced bullying themselves, whether as a victim, observer, or participant. Born of Shane's own experiences of being bullied as a child, To This Day expresses the profound and lasting effect of bullying on an individual, while affirming the strength and inner resources that allow people to move beyond the experience. A heartfelt preface and afterword, along with resources for kids affected by bullying, make this book an invaluable centerpiece of the anti-bullying movement.

Here's the poem on youtube:

Find out more about the "To This Day Project" here.

And add your review of "To This Day" (the poem and/or the book) in comments!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 28

In Chapter Twenty-Seven, Wyatt and Mackenzie make up. Wyatt comes out to her, and things seem like they're going to be okay between them... but not everything comes out on the table.

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Eight!

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Chapter 28
Sunday February 1

            Martin’s laptop was open on the bed when Wyatt stuck his head through the doorway. Martin wasn’t there, but Wyatt could hear the shower running in the second floor bathroom. He wondered if he should wait for Martin or if that was too weird. But he didn’t want to leave. Martin would be gone after the parade…
            It had been a crazy week. It seemed like Wyatt had kept coming out, again and again. But the whole straight-at-school, himself-at-home back and forth, five times, had been rough. This weekend had been a lot easier. Come to think of it, maybe that was what his soldier was smiling about in the photo downstairs. Maybe just being yourself was the secret…
            The screen saver of naked guys hanging out and swimming by the river’s edge glowed. One more coming out, and he could be done.
            Wyatt could feel the chill of the water in his bones. That was where the sharks lived. But he could out-swim them, and stand tall on the far shore.
            I can let freedom ring.

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Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill Blog


Blog Post: Sunday, February 1, 10:19 p.m.
I am Gay!

I know people are going to think I’m only saying Lincoln was gay because I am. But that’s not it. Someone really smart once asked me, since I’ve got all the same evidence about Abraham Lincoln that everyone else does, how come I’m the only one who can see that Lincoln was gay?
Well, maybe all those historians couldn’t see it because they weren’t looking for it.

I could see Abe was in love with Joshua because I was open to seeing it. The proof is there – in this blog, and in Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend, and in all those other books with the Lincoln letters.

If you look for it – with an open mind – you can see it, too.

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Monday February 2

            Wyatt woke up at 4:23 a.m., sheets drenched in regret and sweat.
What the hell had he done?
He had to delete it. No, that would look even worse, like he was hiding again. Shit!
Mr. Guzman had told them about how getting something back once it was online was as impossible as getting pee out of a swimming pool. This was more like shit in a swimming pool. You might as well try to drain the whole internet.  
He kicked at the knot of sheets. There was no way to take it back. They were all going to know.
Maybe he could get home-schooled like Martin.
Or run away to somewhere where they didn’t have internet.
He got up, peeled off his clammy T-shirt and put on dry stuff. There was no way he was going to fall back asleep. He sat on the edge of his bed for five minutes, staring at the beads of misty rain on his windows, trying to not panic.
It didn’t really work.
He snuck down the flight of stairs and quietly knocked on Martin’s door. No answer.
He’s asleep. This is stupid.
Wyatt was on the first step to go back up and suffer on his own when the door to Room Two opened an inch.
“Wyatt?” Martin was rumpled, and adorable, and weirdly enough, just seeing him made the tightness across Wyatt’s chest loosen up a little. “You okay?”
Wyatt answered truthfully. “No.”                
Martin pulled the door wide. “Come in.”

* *

            “So they say, ‘Dude, don’t turn your back on him – he could jump your bones.’ And then you can say, ‘I’m gay, I’m not desperate.” It was an hour later, and Martin was sitting on his bed wrapped in his comforter, running through all these different scenarios. Telling Wyatt how he could get the upper hand for each one.
            “Or they go, ‘Hey, read about your being a fag!’ And you can act all happy and surprised for them, ‘You learned to read!’”
            Wyatt picked at an embroidered flower on the armchair he’d pulled over by the bed. “I wish I didn’t have to go to school.”
            Martin made this I-wish-I-had-better-news-to-tell-you face. “Mom says you have to go, or they’ll get you for truancy. Even with a Doctor’s note, it wouldn’t be credible.”
            Credible. Martin was sounding like a lawyer again. Wyatt wondered if after he got creamed and was in the hospital, if that would be a good enough excuse to not go to school.
            “For what it’s worth,” Martin said, “I wish I could go back in time to my junior high, knowing what I know now.”
Wyatt gave him a skeptical look. “Really?”
            Martin thought for a second and shrugged. “Maybe not. But if I did, at least now I’d know what I could say back!”
Wyatt crossed his arms.
Martin kept the advice rolling. “Here’s another one. If Jonathon says, ‘you like my ass, faggot?’ You can say, ‘It’s amazing how it can talk!’”
            That one got Wyatt to crack up.
            “You can do this.” Martin seemed so confident Wyatt could.
            But Wyatt wasn’t.
            Martin put his hand on top of Wyatt’s, but Wyatt was too freaked out to feel anything. And then, Martin said something Wyatt didn’t expect. “Call Mackenzie. Maybe she can help.”
* *
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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here. Ready for Chapter Twenty-Nine? It will be posted on March 23, 2018. Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter, or instagram. Don't miss a chapter - you can sign up to follow this blog and get emailed every post! Just enter your email at the top of the left column. Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pre-Order your copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" here!

Hello Community!

The Crowdfunding campaign to professionally publish this YA novel and donate hundreds of copies to LGBTQ and Allied Teens has completed, and it was a huge success! The book will publish on October 2, 2018, and will be available for pre-order everywhere books are sold starting on July 2, 2018.

Until then, you can pre-order your copy here!

Wyatt is 15, and nobody in his homophobic small town of Lincolnville, Oregon knows that he’s gay. Not even his best friend (and accidental girlfriend) Mackenzie. Then he discovers a secret from actual history: that Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy! Since everyone loves Lincoln, Wyatt’s sure that if the world knew about it, they would treat gay people differently, and it would solve everything about his life. So Wyatt outs Lincoln online, triggering a media firestorm that threatens to destroy everything he cares about—and he has to pretend more than ever that he’s straight. …Only then he meets openly gay Martin, who may be just the guy Wyatt’s been hoping to find.

Pre-order a signed hardcover copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" for the retail price of $25.99 plus tax and shipping to a U.S. address, or

Pre-order a signed paperback copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" for the retail price of $13.99 plus tax and shipping to a U.S. address:

Physical Copy Format

If you need shipping outside the U.S., please send your pre-order request via email to:
leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com
Specify your address in the country you need the book shipped to, and I'll send you an invoice via PayPal.

For eBooks, Pre-order an ePub or Mobi file of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" for the retail price of $6.99, which will be sent to your email address:

eBook Copy Format

And if you like the novel, please post a review online, wherever you read reviews. It really helps.

Thank you so much!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 27

The kickstarter to empower LGBTQ Teens by funding both the professional publishing of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" AND the donation of 400 paperback copies of the novel to LGBTQ and Allied Teens has passed it's goal! Now, we're seeing how many more LGBTQ and Allied Teens we can empower! Please join in (the campaign ends on March 12, 2018 at 11:30am Pacific), and visit my Kickstarter Project here:

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In Chapter Twenty-Six, Wyatt tries to see Mackenzie, but Mr. Miller won't let him. Drowning in guilt, Wyatt discovers the town's parade has been cancelled - which will mean his mom will be fired and they'll lose the B&B for sure. But then support comes from an unexpected source, as does inspiration. And suddenly, Wyatt sees a possible solution...

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Seven!

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* *

Chapter 27
Tuesday January 27

            Wyatt almost walked right by Mackenzie in the school hallway without realizing it was her. She was in all new clothes – a belted cardigan sweater over a funky dress, and bright pink shoes that weren’t his mom’s. And she’d cut her hair – it was now a short black bob. She looked like a completely different person. Because of him.
He was drowning in guilt – he had to tell her. But she was never alone. All week, he couldn’t find the right moment. He knew the instant he told her, Mackenzie would hate him. Again. Which made it… impossible. What made things even weirder was that Martin had made Wyatt promise to not tell Mackenzie about their new parade plan, so he felt like he was keeping three secrets from her.
Rhonda had agreed she and Martin would stay on until the parade. Wyatt didn’t want to think about Martin leaving, so he just tried to focus on making the parade a success. By Friday, he, Martin, and Wyatt’s dad and mom had made fifty-eight calls – his dad on the reconnected B&B line and everyone else on their cell phones – and they’d already gotten three yesses! It still wasn’t enough to be a parade, and nothing was for sure. But there was a chance. There was hope.
            Enough to keep going.

* *

Saturday January 31

                        Wyatt                          9:48 a.m.
                        I tried 2 talk 2 u all week. hate
                        2 do this as text, but got 2 tell
                        u. martin kind of helped move
                        the thingy in the seance. it
                        wasn’t spirits.
                        really sorry.

* *

            It was early afternoon when Mackenzie just showed up at the B&B, all flushed, still in her Karate gi. Wyatt stood awkwardly opposite her in the entry hall.
            “I’m really sorry!” They said it at the same time.
            That got them both to smile.
Wyatt was so glad she was there. He felt guilty, but still angry, too. He wanted her to go first, and tried to keep his voice neutral. “What are you sorry about?”
            “I haven’t been a very good friend.” Mackenzie stared at the Persian carpet’s pattern of reds and blues as she spoke. “I didn’t realize what you were going through, and it just sort of hit me… or, I hit it.”
            Wyatt scanned her for injuries. “What do you mean?” She didn’t look like she’d gotten hit.
“I was at Albany Junior High, for the tournament, and I got your text–”
“I feel terrible about–” Wyatt started.
“Please,” Mackenzie put up a hand. “Just let me finish. I needed to clear my head, so I went out to the hallway to get a drink, and these two high school guys were making fun of Becca. You know, the cheerleading thing, and how the only letter she could make was a ‘Y’, because she only has the one leg…”
“Cretins.” Wyatt said.
“Yeah.” Mackenzie agreed. “Anyway, I wanted to tell them off, but before I could they were calling me a lesbian, and I told them I wasn’t,” Mackenzie swallowed, “and then they said the only way I could prove it was if I kissed the bigger jerk.”
“Holy crap.” Wyatt breathed.
“So, then, the joker grabbed my arms from behind,” Mackenzie’s breaths came faster and faster as she re-lived it, “and I wasn’t even thinking. It was like all those years of karate just sort of took over, muscle memory or something, you know? And I shouted my Kiai and heel struck his foot, and he let go, howling, and then I elbow struck him in the gut. He fell back, and the big guy came at me. I front-kicked him as hard as I could and he went down, screaming and grabbing his ribs. But the first guy was back up, hopping on one leg, swinging his fists at me, and I blocked and back-kicked him in his good leg. Hard. Knocked him down. Then I had my hand on the fire alarm and told them if they even thought about touching me again, I would pull it.”
She breathed out a wry laugh that was almost a sob. “And then, my Dad came looking for me. I’ve never been so happy to see anyone. We filed a police report and everything.”
“Are you…” Wyatt hesitated. It was a stupid question, but he had to ask. “Okay?”
Mackenzie shook her head. “Not really.” She sniffed, and another laugh came out in a burst. “I did break the jerk’s foot, which was sort of justice, after he made fun of Becca.” She reached for a ponytail that wasn’t there, and instead twisted a lock of short black hair. “But what I wanted to tell you, was, on the ride back home, I realized how it wasn’t safe for Lincoln. And it hasn’t been for you, either. And I’m so sorry about that. And even more, I’m so sorry it took this for me to realize it.”
They looked at each other for a long moment. Eyes trying to express what words couldn’t.
Wyatt set his face in his fiercest expression. “I wish I could have been there.”
Mackenzie’s mouth twisted wryly. “Then I would have had to defend you, too.”
“I could have done something!” Wyatt protested.
She gave him a like what? Look.
“I could have pulled the fire alarm.”
That got them both smiling again.
            “Can I apologize now?” Wyatt asked.
Mackenzie nodded.
 “I’m sorry about the séance.” Wyatt made a guilty face. “And your hair. I feel terrible about it.”
            Mackenzie dropped her hand. “I like my hair. And, well, it was a lousy thing to do, but maybe… I still want her to come home, but, even if I don’t know for sure, I can’t stop my life and just wait. Not anymore.”
            “So, I guess,” Mackenzie shrugged, “like the song: it’s not right, but it’s okay?”
            But it couldn’t be. Not until she knew everything. Wyatt could feel his Adam’s Apple shoot up and then down again. He was so tense, and afraid of what she’d say, but he couldn’t wait even another second.
Like jumping into Jenson’s Stream, he had to tell her.
Right now.
Stop stalling and say it! “Mackenzie?” His voice shook. “I’m gay.”
            “I know.”
            He staggered back like she had hit him. “You know?”
            “I had a hunch, the way things went with us. And then, seeing you with Martin, it all started to make sense…”
            Wyatt headed over to the store area and started tweaking things that didn’t really need to be adjusted. “He’s just a friend.”
            She walked over to join him. “You don’t sound too happy about that.”
            He poured out the rifle pens from the Lincoln coffee mug, checking for Confederate Rifles that had ended up in the Union cup by mistake. Keeping his eyes down, he asked, “Is it okay to tell you I’m not?”
            The only sound for a bit were pens sliding across the top of the glass display case. She leaned over and moved a few Richmond carbines to the correct pile. “It’s okay. He is cute.”
            They were quiet, but Wyatt could tell that the space between them felt different now. Like it actually could be okay. And maybe soon.
            Mackenzie walked over and balanced the two bears that had fallen behind the reception computer screen back up on their small speakers. “There you go, little Blue, and Gray.”
            When Mackenzie turned back, Wyatt was staring at her. “I miss my best friend.” He said.
            “I miss you, too.”
            They hugged, and Wyatt felt the warmth of it. The relief of getting to this place – friends, again.
            He pulled back. “You know what the worst moment was?”
            “When you went out with Jonathon, just to get back at me. Man, I felt so stabbed in the back. I’m glad you told that homophobic loser off.”

            Mackenzie closed her eyes like it was painful for her too, and then said, “Me, too.”
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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here. Ready for Chapter Twenty-Eight? It will be posted on March 16, 2018. Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter, or instagram. Don't miss a chapter - you can sign up to follow this blog and get emailed every post! Just enter your email at the top of the left column. Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Finale Livestream Event for our successful community-powered crowdfunding of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill"

Update: Here's the link to the livestream recording:


Let's celebrate the successful crowdfunding campaign to professionally publish the YA novel "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" AND, as an empowerment project, donate hundreds and hundreds of copies to LGBTQ and Allied Teens!

How many exactly? We'll announce the up-to-the-moment number during the party (though the final tally won't be complete until the Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday March 12 around 11:30am Pacific time.)

It's also your chance to help me decide which few pages from the book I should read from, when the novel is released on October 2, 2018 and there are readings and signings to do... I'll read two different sections during this Livestream event, and ask for your input!

There will be time for questions, and three lucky commenters during the livestream will be randomly chosen to win prizes!

Hope you can make it! Here's the link to the facebook event page where the video will be at 10am Pacific time on Sunday March 11, 2018:

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

ps - If you can't make the live event, I'll post the link to the recording here that Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 5, 2018

91-year-old woman kicked out of the Air Force for being a Lesbian finally gets her discharge changed to "honorable"

Helen Grace, as featured on the "Today" show

Kudos to Megyn Kelly for featuring Helen Grace's story on the "Today" show. It's a long way from Helen's 1950s discharge from the Air Force for being a lesbian to Megyn clasping her hand over her heart at the end of Helen's story and the studio audience applauding Helen, and the story's closing line: "rights for which one is never to old to fight."

A nice reminder, in this time of struggle, that we are making progress towards a more just and open and embracing-of-differences society.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

It's another Livestream Event for "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" - $5 Bill Origami Demo and Q&A with author Lee Wind

Here's the link to watch the recording of this $5 Bill Origami Demo:

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Hi Community,

A lot of people watched our first livestream (instant antiquing), and I hope you can join me for this Facebook Live event today, Saturday March 3, 2018 at Noon Pacific time. (Just an hour from my posting this!)

You should be able to see it here:

It's all to celebrate the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Kickstarter, and our barn-raising to together donate more than 720 copies of the YA novel to empower LGBTQ and Allied Teens.

I hope you can join in the fun!
The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

ps- if the timing doesn't work for you, I'll post the link this afternoon so you can watch the recorded show.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 26

The kickstarter to empower LGBTQ Teens by funding both the professional publishing of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" AND the donation of 400 paperback copies of the novel to LGBTQ and Allied Teens has passed it's goal! Now, we're seeing how many more LGBTQ and Allied Teens we can empower! Please join in, and visit my Kickstarter Project here:

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In Chapter Twenty-Five, Wyatt is determined to not have his own truth be erased anymore. And he reasons that if the truth about Lincoln didn't need anything but the truth, maybe it didn't need Wyatt to lie anymore, either... So Wyatt finally does what Lincoln was never able to do... he risks what feels like everything and comes out—to Martin, Martin's mom, and his own parents. Emboldened, Wyatt goes for his first real kiss with Martin, but Martin isn't interested in being wanted solely because he's the only other gay teen Wyatt knows. So no kiss. Just Wyatt's first gay 'let's be friends' kiss-off.

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Six!

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Chapter 26
Monday January 26

The School Rock read,


Wyatt had a great view of it from his window-aisle desk in detention.
He’d tried to get through the day zombie-style, with a plan to let nothing bother him – because really, what bothers the undead? – but it wasn’t working at all. Every time he’d been within earshot, Jonathon started selling John Wilkes Booth Appreciation Society T-shirts out of his locker and backpack. Mr. Clifton had trapped him after History, instructing Wyatt to tell his dad that their bowling team had decided Wyatt’s dad would be better off on another team. I’m sure he’ll understand why. And Mackenzie had been a no-show the whole day. She still hadn’t answered any of Wyatt’s texts. Was she okay? She hadn’t done anything stupid, had she? The guilt seeped through him, filling every pore.
As soon as Ms. Valens released them, Wyatt ran directly to Mackenzie’s place.
He took the stairs two at a time and rang the condo doorbell.
Mr. Miller answered, holding a bunch of dresses on hangers.
“I need to talk to Mackenzie.” Wyatt said.
“Leave her alone, Wyatt.”
“I have something really important–”
“I’m sure you think it is. But we’re dealing with hard stuff here.” Mackenzie’s dad stared at the dresses in his hands. Behind him, half-filled cardboard boxes were lined up by the kitchen counter. The one closest to the door had purses in it. “Moving on is hard.”
“But that’s what–”
“Stop!” Mr. Miller’s voice broke with pain. “Just go, okay? This is important healing time for us. Mackenzie will see you at school tomorrow.”
Wyatt’s eyes went wide when he saw the bottle of alcohol on the entry bench. It was only two-thirds full. Had Mr. Miller started drinking again? Because of him?
Mr. Miller followed his gaze. “Schapps. For some reason she liked this peppermint schnapps stuff, and I just couldn’t…” He picked up the bottle and thrust it into Wyatt’s hands. “Here. Take it to your parents. Better we don’t have any of this stuff in the house, after all.”
And then he shut the door in Wyatt’s face.
Wyatt stared at the bottle of alcohol. If he gave it to his parents, he’d have to explain this whole thing…
The building’s dumpster was around the side. The dumpster’s top was open, and when Wyatt was ten feet away, he spun the bottle through the air. It sailed in and smashed against the metal bottom.
Wyatt winced, hoping no one had heard that. He walked over and peered in. The smell of peppermint slapped him in the face as he saw the broken glass at the bottom of the otherwise empty dumpster. He wondered how long it would smell like that. There’s no fixing any of this, is there?
Heading home, he glanced down 4th Street to Union Square, one block away. Where were all the banners? They hadn’t changed any of the ones on 4th, so there should be all these banners announcing the parade…
Wyatt walked up the block to see the whole square. Every light pole was empty. Their town wasn’t advertising Abe and Mary’s ‘great love’ anymore, but they also weren’t even saying there was going to be a parade in nineteen days!
He raced home and got on the reception computer. It wasn’t on the Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce calendar anymore, either. No parade ad, and no listing.
But the parade had to happen! Without it, his mom was out of a job, and they were going to be forced out of here. Wyatt looked about at their wacky Queen Anne Victorian.
The history and dust.
Wax-Lincoln and the military mannequin.
His soldier.
The fake bed upstairs, and so many memories.
It was a weird place to live but… it was home.

* *

When Wyatt got to his room, there were two thin envelopes that had come in the mail sitting on his chair, since his desk was kind of a mess. They were both hand-addressed to him, one in a jagged scrawl, the other in fancy script.
            The scrawled one had a sheet of yellow notebook paper folded inside. Wyatt opened it, and a five-dollar bill fluttered out. The note read:

                        Wyatt –
                        Loved learning Lincoln was gay! Can’t come to stay at your B&B
                        but hope this helps. Stay strong,

            Wyatt held the five in his hand, and took the good feeling in. He didn’t know who Mark was, but there was someone out there who believed in what he was doing!
            Kind of excited, he opened the second envelope. On cream-colored paper, the fancy script read:

                        My Dear Wyatt, and of course, Mr. & Mrs. Yarrow as well,
                        Please do not allow small-minded people to hold you back. After all,
“The Truth Shall Set You Free.” – John 8:32
                        However, in my life I have learned that sometimes, the truth can be expensive. Wishing you blessings of Peace,
                                    Mrs. Daisy Locke

            There was a check inside. For $500.00
            Wyatt started shouting as he ran for the stairs. “Dad!”
            He raced the downstairs corridor to the kitchen, check and Lincoln five-dollar bill in his hand, but stopped short at a pottery SMASH!
            “No parade!” His mom’s voice was high and scary.
            When he got to the doorway Wyatt saw his mom let go of a plate – SMASH! It shattered on the tile by her feet. His dad’s eyes were wet with tears as he watched her. And Rhonda and Martin were by the dining room door, silently taking in the whole thing.
            Wyatt’s mom picked up another plate from the stack on the counter. “No parade!”
            “No –”
            She cursed, freaking Wyatt out even more.
            “Mom! Stop!” Wyatt cautiously entered the room, pushing shards away with his sneakers.
            “Hi, Wyatt.” she said like normal, grabbing another plate. “Did you hear the news?”
            He tried to speak fast, before she dropped it. “Yeah – about the parade.”
            “It’s official. You can’t have a parade with two entries. Even ‘Tykes on Bikes’ cancelled.” His mom put the plate back on the stack, like she’d changed her mind. Then she shoved all five remaining plates off the counter. They CRUMPED into large pieces on the floor. She let out a long breath. “I always hated that pattern.”
            It seemed safer since she’d run out of plates. “Mom, there’s something I need to show you.” Wyatt stretched his arm out over the jagged debris.
            “What’s this?”
            She took the check and money and he explained to them all, about the letters.
            “Five-hundred-and-five dollars is nice, but it’s not going to get us out of the financial hole we’re in.” His mom handed the check and bill back to him. “I have to clean this up. Gregory,” she spoke to his dad. “I think it’s time to sell the Lincoln bed and all the things in the museum.”
The bed. Wyatt avoided looking at his Dad. It was his dad’s secret’s to tell, and he didn’t want to give anything away.
His mom leaned heavily against the counter. “I’m sorry, I know… It’s not what any of us wanted. But when they foreclose we’re not going to have anywhere to store–”
            “Stop! No!” Wyatt cut her off. “You don’t have to!” He swiveled between his parents. “We’re not going to lose this place.”
            His mom raised a weary hand. “Wyatt, I know you want to help, but you have to let us adults deal with this.”
            “We need a parade, right?” Wyatt said. “If there’s a parade, and it's a big success, the Mayor said you can keep your job. Well – we’ve been trying for the wrong kind of parade!”
Blank stares. None of them knew what Wyatt meant.
“Mom, you’ve been calling, trying to get people to be in the Lincoln and Mary parade, right?”
            “I must have made two-hundred calls.” His mom said.
            “We need people to come to the Lincoln and Joshua parade!” Wyatt looked at them all.
Martin’s eyes went wide. “You want to do a parade about Lincoln being gay?”
Martin was right. Who would come to that? They needed a crowd. Like that March on Washington. Like going back in time to add Gays to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s list…
Wyatt felt the goosebumps prickle on his skin, traveling up the sides of his back and neck as the idea took shape.
            ‘Black men and White men. Jews and Gentiles. Protestants and Catholics.’
            And Gays, and Women, and the Disabled and… everyone.
That was it!
All men are created equal – Lincoln believed that, right?” Wyatt’s face shone as he tried to get them to see it, too. “And Martin Luther King, Jr.! What if it’s more about that? About how we’re all created equal. Men, Women. Black, White. Gay, Straight. No exceptions.” He repeated it, feeling it sink in. “No exceptions! That’s our new parade theme. All people are created equal – no exceptions!
Wyatt held up the check in one hand and the five-dollar bill in the other. “And people will come to that!”
His mom looked to Rhonda. “What about our permit? Could they pull it?”
 “Parade permits aren’t theme-dependent…” Rhonda shook her head as she thought it through. “Even if they don’t like the new theme, they can’t stop it.”
“Which means they can’t stop us!” Wyatt said.
Martin did a quick search on his cell phone for a number, then dialed. They all watched as he pressed the speakerphone button.
A man’s voice answered, “University of Oregon switchboard.”

“Hi!” Martin said, giving Wyatt a wink. “Can I speak with the person who books your marching band?”
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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here

Ready for Chapter Twenty-Seven? It will be posted on March 9, 2018. 

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter, or instagram. 

Don't miss a chapter - you can sign up to follow this blog and get emailed every post! Just enter your email at the top of the left column. 

Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!