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!

* *

* *

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.

* *

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.

* *

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:

* *
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!

* *

* *

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:

* *
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:

* *
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!

* *

* *

* *
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. 

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Not Quite Narwhal - a sweet picture book about identity, and belonging, that I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Kelp doesn't mind being a little different from the other narwhals. But when a strong current carried him away, Kelp encounters some mysterious, sparking creatures who leave him wondering if maybe... just maybe... he isn't a NARWHAL at all.

The illustrations! The Narwhals! The Unicorns! And most of all, the main character, Kelp, and how the whole story is suffused with a joyous sense of love and acceptance... It's pretty magical.

Here's a fun book trailer:


Add you review of "Not Quite Narwhal" in comments!

Monday, February 26, 2018

One Fifth-Grade Teacher's Strategy to Stop the Next Mass Shooting

Featured at Reader's Digest, "One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings—and It’s Not About Guns" was written by Glennon Doyle Melton from

This "Love Ninja" strategy of their child's teacher really resonated for me.

"This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. Who are our next mass shooters and how do we stop them? She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed may eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

"And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often in the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it."

 Read the full article here.


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


Friday, February 23, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 25

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-Four, Mackenzie's Dad (doing his best impression of a police officer) shows up to question Wyatt about the vandalism, but Martin's mom calls his bluff. Mackenzie reaches out to Wyatt to help her conduct a seance to figure out if her mom is alive, and if not, if her mother has a message for her. Martin tags along, and there is a message for Mackenzie during the seance... just not what anyone expected – certainly not Wyatt. And then, when Wyatt and Martin get back to the B&B, there's the shocking revelation of what Wyatt's dad has done...

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-Five!

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Chapter 25
Sunday January 25

            After thirty minutes, Wyatt was way downstream, and his run down-shifted to a walk. The bank on this side wasn’t much more than a footpath, and that petered out at a jumble of boulders up ahead. They formed an eight-foot waterfall that dropped into a swimming-deep pool before the stream narrowed down again. It wasn’t dramatic enough to be on any tours, but it was pretty beautiful all the same.
            He’d miss this when he got to San Francisco. Or maybe New York.
            Wyatt climbed over the rocks, still out of breath as he picked his way down the far side. The off-center flat stone in the pool was bright with sun, too far to get to without swimming. A flash of silver in the water caught his eye. A Steelhead.
            He was already all sweaty.
            Wyatt kicked off his muddy too-small sneakers, stripped down to his boxers, and put his clothes high on a rock. He was starting to feel cold, but he couldn’t think about it too much or he wouldn’t do it.
            “Aaahhhh!” With a shout he long-jumped in, and it was like some crazy ice-plunge as the water swallowed him up. Thrashing to the surface, he whipped the hair out of his eyes. Arms pumping, Wyatt kicked fast, and the ripples didn’t stop him. Six strokes and he pulled himself up on the flat boulder, baked in the sun. The air cooled down his wet skin and Wyatt shivered. But the sun was bright and hot. He looked around. This place was hidden in the woods, and even in the middle of summer, it was rare to see anyone – only the occasional hikers. And while it was warm for January, it was January. Wyatt listened carefully, but there was only the rush and fall of water. The high ta-ta-tah-ta trill of some red-winged blackbirds. The drip of his wet hair on the rock. He was alone.
            Go for it.
Stripping off his boxers, Wyatt wrung them and spread them out in the sun next to him. He lay back.
            The wash of it.
            The sun on his body, on his closed eyelids.
            And he unknotted, bit by bit.
            The bed was fake. His ‘proof’ was fake.
            But Lincoln was gay. Or bi. Or whatever you called it, he’d been in love with Joshua. Even if they didn’t have the bed. The letters proved it! And when Wyatt had gone to the online site for the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, there had been photos showing that Abe and Mary not only had separate beds, but separate bedrooms! But Abe and Joshua had shared a bed, even if it wasn’t that one, for four years.
            Wyatt started to warm up.
            Their whole town and everyone in it was being called gay. Queerville. And everyone was blaming Wyatt. But all he was doing was telling the truth about history.
            The solidness of the rock under him made him feel like he was solid, too. If only there was some way to make this part of Oregon gay-friendly so he wouldn’t have to move to a big city to be himself… That would be the fantasy.
            He inhaled the mineral-rich smell of the water. The mud on the bank. Squinting his eyes open, he caught the kaleidoscope of greens and browns all around him. Wyatt leaned back again and let the sun, radiant, fill him up.
            It felt good to be this free. Not hiding, not even behind clothes. And lying here, Wyatt didn’t feel vulnerable being naked. He felt powerful.
            His thoughts went to how his parents were on the defensive. How he’d been on the defensive, his whole life. It was maybe a way to avoid losing too badly, but defense was not how you won the game – any game. You won with offense.
            Wyatt sat up. He wasn’t even all dry yet, but he knew what he had to do. Holding his boxers high, he slipped back into the freezing water and swam-kicked to the bank. Dripping, he grabbed his cell phone out of his jeans pocket and speed-dialed Legal Advocates of Oregon.
            Rhonda picked up. “Hello? Wyatt?”
            “Can we sue them?” Wyatt asked her, toweling off with his sweatshirt and trying to not get the phone too wet.
            “What? Slow down.”
            “We should sue all of them – Principal Jackson, Mayor Rails, the school board, the people who write the history books! I mean, they’re all lying about Lincoln!”
            “If there’s any doubt about that, and there is, you have no case.” Rhonda said.
            “I don’t have any doubt!”
            She was quiet a moment. Wyatt tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder and pulled on his jeans. Finally, she said, “Answering their frivolous lawsuit with our own isn’t my style. It just alienates the same judges you want on your side another day.”
            Wyatt plopped down on a boulder. “But then how are we going to play offense? How are we ever going to win?”
            “We do what Civil Rights Activists do: Speak Truth to Power. And trust that Truth is our strongest weapon. We can talk about it more tonight.”
            Wyatt mumbled, “yeah,” but what was the point of talking any more if she wasn’t going to do it? His thumb was on ‘end call’ when he heard her again.
            “Wyatt? You’re doing it with your blog.”
            He hung up and pulled the rest of his clothes on, thinking about what she’d said.
            Truth to Power?
            He wasn’t. Not completely.
            He’d been telling the truth on the one hand and lying on the other. Just like Lincoln.
But, maybe, the truth about Abe and Joshua was strong enough on its own. Wyatt stood up, nerves jangling with energy at the thought. If the truth didn’t need the bed to still be true, and it didn’t… Maybe, it didn’t need him, either.
And that meant… he had the chance to do something Abraham Lincoln never did.

* *

            As Wyatt jogged back, carrying his wet boxers and sweatshirt, he decided to head past the School Rock. It was Sunday, no one would be there, and he’d get to check out their ‘Abe Lincoln Loved Joshua Speed’ in giant green and white letters. Charge him up to do this.
            Moving got Wyatt warm again, and he crossed over at the ford and cut up the ravine. The parking lots and outdoor basketball court were empty, and the place seemed abandoned. Wyatt slowed down as he neared the corner of the gym – he didn’t want to run into a big group of people by the rock. He just needed to see it for himself.
            He peeked around the corner to scope it out. No cars. No people. But the School Rock had been completely repainted. The whole thing. A light brown.
            Wyatt walked out slowly to the giant piece of caramel on the lawn. A few flecks of green and white paint were still on the grass, but otherwise, it was like what he and Martin had painted  last night had never been there.
            They had erased it. Like the truth about Abe had always been erased.
            Wyatt spun around and broke into a run.
            He was not going to be erased.

* *

            Wyatt paused just outside Martin’s doorway. Martin was playing his guitar and singing softly, like he was figuring out the words as he went along.
“Two lovers on their way
one wore blue and one wore gray
with their love locked safe away…”
He stopped, then strummed the opening chord and tried again, voice shimmering,
 “Two lovers on their way
one wore blue and one wore gray
 no one knew that they were gay…”
Sitting on the bed, Martin leaned forward to type on his laptop. He glanced over and saw Wyatt standing there. “Hey!” He hit a key and a screen saver popped up.
“Sounding good,” Wyatt told him, but his eyes were on the transformed computer screen. It showed an old-fashioned painting of… Wyatt moved closer to make sure. It was! Some naked guys by a river! Did Martin know he had just…? “What’s that?”
“Still trying to work out new lyrics for the ‘Two Brothers’ song.”
“No,” Wyatt’s eyes drew a line to the naked guys. “That.”
Martin turned and saw what Wyatt was staring at. “Thomas Eakins. Don’t laugh, but it’s called Swimming Hole.”
Wyatt could only imagine how much a guy could get teased for that.
He leaned in to study it. It wasn’t… sexual, they just weren’t wearing clothes. It was a bunch of guys hanging out. Swimming. Being themselves.
Wyatt put a hand on Martin’s arm. “Dude, you know I’m…?” It was so hard to knock down the wall he had spent forever building.
Martin pulled off his guitar and stood to face him. “You can say it, Wyatt. I am, too.”
“Okay.” Tears were in his eyes and Wyatt whispered it. “I’m gay.”
Martin put out his arms and Wyatt fell into him, sobbing. He didn’t have to hold it all in so tight anymore.
After a minute, Wyatt pulled back, wiped his nose with his sleeve. “I need to tell my folks.” He checked out the painting on Martin’s computer screen again. “They look… free.”
Martin didn’t take his eyes off Wyatt. “Yeah, I think they are.”

* *

            “You sure you want us here?” Martin whispered as Wyatt led him and Rhonda down the corridor to the living room where Wyatt had his dad and mom waiting.
            With Rhonda, who accepted her gay son, and Martin there with him, Wyatt figured it was insurance against his dad and mom freaking out too badly. They couldn’t disown him, or kick him out, or tell him they hated him – with witnesses. At least… that was the plan.
            Wyatt bobbed his head nervously. “Yeah.”
            Telling Rhonda had taken two minutes. He’d gotten a hug, and a little advice. “You might need to give them some time to get used to the idea. Think how long it took you to feel good about it.” But Wyatt couldn’t stop and think. This was like jumping into the stream – he had to do it fast or he’d get cold feet.
            Wyatt’s dad and mom looked up as they entered, and before Martin and Rhonda could even sit, Wyatt blurted it out: “I’m gay.”
            The room was silent. For what seemed like forever.
            Wyatt stole a glance at his dad, who had stopped restacking the wood in the iron log holder. Then, Wyatt took a quick peek at his mom in the lounge chair by the glass bookcase. They seemed afraid to move – like they were china and might break.
            “It’s not actually a bad thing…” Wyatt’s words faded out. He wanted to scream, disappear, explode. Was this the end of everything he knew? Were they going to hate him now? Would he lose them? Why didn’t they say anything?
            Wyatt’s dad cleared his throat. Twice. “So, this whole Lincoln thing was your way of…?
            “I don’t know.” Wyatt stood there, squirming. “It’s true, about Lincoln and Speed, and I thought it was like… a way to see how it would go?”
            “And it’s gone so spectacularly well, that now you’re telling us you’re gay, too?” His dad tossed the log he was holding onto the stone hearth, THUNK.
            Oh no.
            “Well, maybe it hasn’t gone that well, but… more people know the truth about Lincoln, at least.” Wyatt’s voice got really soft. “I wanted you to know about me, too.”
            “But, what about Mackenzie?” His mom asked, like she knew Wyatt was wrong. About who he was.
            Wyatt shook his head. “We were just friends.” Now wasn’t the time to feel guilty about Mackenzie and how he’d lied to her, too. About himself, and the séance. Blood pounded in his ears.
            His dad sighed. He and Wyatt’s mom exchanged a silent look, but it was parent-language, and Wyatt couldn’t read it. Had they expected this? Or had he hid it too well all these years?
            What were they going to do?
            “Lincoln did the right thing.” His dad started.
            No – the right thing by being closeted? By never speaking his truth? Wyatt’s eyes burned.
            His dad continued, “…Even when it wasn’t popular.” And then, his dad’s mouth slowly wrenched into a pained smile. “Maybe you learned that lesson better than I did.” He exhaled, buzzing his lips. “I guess, better to know the truth now than never.”
            What? Was he talking about the bed or Wyatt?
            His dad continued. “Gay or not, I’ll always admire President Lincoln. And I’ll always love you.”
            Wyatt didn’t want to ask it, but he had to. “Even if we lose this place because of me?”
            His dad looked right at him. “Even if this B&B comes crashing down around our ears.”
            “But, it’s your dream…”
            His dad shook his head, and gazed up as if seeing the whole building around them. “Maybe this will never be the success I want it to be. But my son? My Wyatt?” His dad’s voice caught for a moment. “You will never cease to make me proud.”
            He put his arms out, and then Wyatt did something he hadn’t done since he was a little kid. He rushed into them, wanting the reassurance of the hug, wanting to know it would all be okay.
            “Why are you wet?” his dad asked, but Wyatt just laughed and held him tighter.
“It’s going to be such rougher seas for you.” Wyatt’s mom stared into the empty fire grate. “I always thought that if I could just avoid making waves, my boat would never capsize. And I wanted that for you, too.” She scoffed. “But it doesn’t even work for me.”
She stood up, awkward. “I think my mother’s sister was a lesbian.”
“Great Aunt Freida?” Wyatt was stunned.
His mom shrugged. “She lived with this other woman for more than thirty years.”
“How come I’ve never heard this story?” Wyatt asked.
“Well, they didn’t advertise it.” His mom said. “You met Shara at the funeral.”
Wyatt had no idea which old woman it had been. But it blew his mind to know that even in their family, he wasn’t the only one…
Wyatt’s mom picked up the log from the hearth and placed it carefully with the others in the holder. “There are going to be so many mean, uneducated people to deal with...” She turned to Wyatt, wiping bark debris from her hands. “Are you ready for that?”
“I don’t know,” Wyatt said. “I guess… I have to be.”
We have to be.” His mom corrected. “And we will. Together.”
            Wyatt put out his arm and his mom stepped into the hug, letting her fancy blouse get wet against him. Her right arm clenched Wyatt’s ribs so fiercely it hurt, but there was no way he was going to complain.
            “I love you, Sweetie.” His mom said, her voice hoarse in his ear. “You’re my son, and I love you.”
            Wyatt managed to squeak the words out, “I love you guys, too.” He told himself to not cry. That this was a good thing. But his face was wet all the same.
            Standing by the door, Rhonda found Martin’s hand and squeezed it tight. He squeezed back as they watched.
            After a long moment of the ice thawing inside Wyatt, his dad held him out at arm’s length. “Now, you go take a hot shower. You’re shivering.” Wyatt didn’t even know he was.
            But it didn’t matter. He had told them. And it was okay.

* *

            Wyatt was all warm again and almost done toweling dry when he heard the knock on the outside of the bathroom door. “Wyatt?”
            Martin. His voice was tender. Wyatt double-knotted the towel around his waist.
            “I’m really happy for you. It took me three days to get to the hug.” He was just on the other side of the door.
But they didn’t need a door, or anything, between them anymore. Wyatt just had to be brave enough to act on what he’d finally said. His heart jackhammered in his chest.
There was a long pause, and then Martin said, “Congratulations, man.”
Do it! Wyatt held his towel tight with his left hand and with his right, whipped the bathroom door open. Martin was right there, his deep brown eyes meeting Wyatt’s. Wyatt leaned forward, lips together, to get a real first kiss…
“Whoa! Not so fast, astronaut.” Martin blocked him with a hand on Wyatt’s chest, pushing him back.
What about spooning in the not-Lincoln bed? Their hands touching in Martin’s room? The almost-kiss by the School Rock? “But I thought, now…?” Wyatt could feel his face get hot.
“You’re like travelling at supersonic speed. You just came out to other people for the first time. To me, my mom, your parents! Give that half a minute to sink in.”
“But I want to kiss you!” Wyatt did. He’d never been able to say it out loud before, and it sounded good. He wanted to know what it was like. He tried to lean over Martin’s hand, get his face next to his. Martin felt it too, didn’t he, this thing between them?
Martin’s hand, warm against Wyatt’s chest, held him away.
“Don’t you like me?” Wyatt was so confused.
“Yeah, but right now, you’d kiss a frog if it was gay.”
Wyatt tried to make a joke of it. “I hear some frogs turn into Princes!”
But Martin was all serious. “I don’t want to be wanted just because I’m the only other gay guy you know. That you’ve ever met. I want to be wanted for me.”
“I do!”
“Wyatt.” Martin stepped back, hand leaving Wyatt’s skin. The place over Wyatt’s heart where it had been was suddenly cold. Empty. “For now, let’s just be friends.”
Wyatt’s face must have betrayed him, because Martin said right away, like he didn’t want to hurt Wyatt’s feelings too much, “Good friends. And… let’s see where it goes.”
So Wyatt didn’t get his first real kiss.
All he got was his first gay ‘let’s be friends’ kiss-off.
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Endnotes for Chapter 25
Wyatt considers how Abe and Mary had separate bedrooms in their home, in contrast to Abe and Joshua sharing Joshua’s bed for four years. You can see the online photos of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois (showing Abe and Mary’s different bedrooms) here:
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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-Six? It will be posted on March 2, 2018. 

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