Friday, November 17, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 11

In Chapter Ten, Wyatt is interviewed for a satellite radio program, getting to share what he's discovered about Lincoln and how he thinks it could change the world. He's pretty sure it's safe. After all, his parents don't listen to Q Satellite Radio: News for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning and Queer Community.

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 Eleven!

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* *

Chapter 11
Friday January 16

“The raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry happened more than a year before Lincoln was elected President!” Mr. Guzman was in the middle of telling them about this White abolitionist, John Brown, and how he had tried to start an armed slave revolt when the class phone rang and Wyatt was summoned to the Principal’s office. Everyone went “Ooooh!” like he was in trouble.
He had a sinking feeling that he was.
Leering at him, Jonathon had dragged a finger across his own neck, all international sign language for you’re-so-dead.
So now Wyatt was fidgeting in the chair where the school secretary had told him to wait, with no idea what he’d done. Principal Jackson’s door opened, and Coach Rails paused on his way out. Scratching at his half-grown-in Lincoln beard, he called back over his shoulder. “Andrew! Your next victim is here.”
Victim?
“Send Mr. Yarrow in.”
Wyatt kept his eyes on his feet to avoid looking at Coach Rails or Principal Jackson, and sat in the chair opposite the Principal’s desk – somewhere he’d never been before. The words crashed into him like a stormy sea. “Wildly irresponsible,” “Reputations are fragile things,” “The risk of retraction is that it would allow the conversation to continue!”
Was this about the radio interview? Principal Jackson didn’t seem like the kind of guy who listened to Q Satellite Radio.
“God forbid the press gets a hold of this,” Principal Jackson was saying.
So he didn’t know about it. Wyatt let out a long breath, trying to calm down. It didn’t work.
“Son! Look at me.”
Wyatt clamped his teeth together to keep from showing anything on his face and looked up.
“This, unfortunately, will become a distraction for your fellow students. And I am sorely tempted to suspend you until we are past that distraction.” Principal Jackson used a wooden fork to rake the sand in his desktop Zen garden, carefully lifting each stone to make his raked lines perfect and then setting it back down. “And if you are suspended, beyond failing History, if you miss too many days in all your subjects, we will be required to hold you back and have you repeat ninth grade.”
Oh, man. Dad and Mom would freak!
Principal Jackson went on and on and on about how what Wyatt had done was a reflection not just on Lincolnville High School but on their whole town. Wyatt’s eyes wandered to a framed picture of Principal Jackson shaking hands with Mayor Rails at the library consolidation ceremony, American stars and stripes and Oregon’s blue and gold state flag behind them. Principal Jackson and the Mayor were tight.
The next photo over was of the Principal’s family trout-fishing with Jonathon’s. It was an old picture, back when Wyatt, Jonathon, and Mackenzie had been in third grade. The three of them had actually been friends. Or, at least, friendly. Becca, Jonathon’s sister who was one grade under them, was there next to her brother, her at-the-time candy-cane striped prosthetic leg unmistakable. Jonathon had his arm around her and a big smile on his face. And a Star Wars T-shirt! Wyatt studied it to make sure. Yeah, Luke holding a lightsaber. Jonathon had been so into Star Wars back then.
Death Star Big… What the heck?
Why would Jonathon help get the word out about Lincoln being gay, when he was such an ass about it in real life, and on his blog? That didn’t make any sense.
His leg was jittery, but under his hand, Wyatt could feel the outline of the skeleton key in his pocket. Those letters were his proof. He wanted to tell Principal Jackson that Mr. Guzman had given him another chance. That he was working on another blog post that would really prove Abe loved Joshua. But would that get Mr. Guzman in trouble, too?
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Principal Jackson said, and then waited for… what? A teary apology?
Wyatt tried to keep his voice reasonable. “But – I just did the assignment!”
“Entirely too many people have found out about this.”
Wyatt hadn’t thought to check his visitor stats on the reception computer last night, when he’d added his blog as an external link on the Lincoln Wikipedia entry. It had sort of been homework… Was that link already working? Had listeners from the radio show checked it out? “How many people?”
Principal Jackson’s hand jerked, ruining his neat rows. “Too many.” He exhaled like some asthmatic dinosaur, and this time pulled out all five rocks, lining them up one by one on the side of the Zen garden’s wood frame.
If it’s enough to bother him, that’s pretty cool.
Carefully dragging the rake the other way through the grains of sand, Principal Jackson said, “We need you to delete your blog and stop all this nonsense about Lincoln being… well, you know what you’re saying.”
It’s not nonsense.
Wait… We?
Principal Jackson. The Mayor. Mr. Clifton. None of them cared if it was true or not. They just didn’t want people thinking Lincoln was queer. Somehow, it was like that would make them look bad. They wanted to squash it.
“Son, am I getting through to you?” Principal Jackson raised his voice like he was shouting across the cafeteria, not four feet away on the other side of his desk, holding a doll-sized yard tool. “It’s your choice: the path forward can be pleasant, or difficult.” He set down the fourth stone and started raking a circle around it. “It’s a lot like firing a gun. The bullet goes forward but the gun kicks back. Every action has its reaction.” Final stone in his hand, he frowned at the arrangement like it was a chess game and he was losing.
Wyatt took his chance to escape. “I hear you. Can I leave now?”
“Fine.” Principal Jackson waved him away. “But this gets resolved A.S.A.P. or you will start to experience serious consequences. Consequences that will start with three weeks of detention if this isn’t gone from the internet by the end of the day!”
He couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

* *

            Wyatt logged onto the reception computer the second he got home. There was a statistical counter Mr. Guzman had set up, so they could know how many people were reading their blogs, and from where. So they could see that it was truly a global enterprise. He found the link and clicked it.
            It took him a moment to figure it out. It was a graph chart, with green vertical lines. Actually, just one vertical line on the far right, which he guessed was the scale, to show how high you could go. The rest were super-short green rectangles. At the bottom were some names.
The first was C. Anderson – 4 visits. That was one from Mr. Guzman, and maybe Charlie’s parents and an unlucky uncle. Wyatt scanned across, pausing at a bigger rectangle. M. Miller – 68 visits. Ouch. Usually people liked to check out Mackenzie’s work so they knew what to do to get an ‘A.’ This time, it was like they’d been giddy to see her first ‘C.’ Another rectangle, bigger than the others. J. Rails – 92 visits. How many of them had read the post where he’d called Wyatt a queer homo? Mr. Guzman had made him take it down, but it had been online for almost a whole day.
            Had he done better than Jonathon? It was possible, wasn’t it, if Principal Jackson was so bent out of shape about it…
            He found his name, last as usual. W. Yarrow. Wyatt squinted, then toggled the screen bigger. It wasn’t a scale. The tall green vertical line was his blog hits. 1,742.
One thousand seven hundred and forty-two? Oh my gosh, people are reading it. Not just people in school. People!
            “Whoo!” The shout echoed through their downstairs, past the soldier mannequin, past wax-Lincoln, all the way to his soldier in the photo. It felt amazing. Like he was being heard.
            Wyatt shut the browser in case anyone walked in and headed over to his soldier, who was smiling out at him. No weapon in his hands at all. How do you fight without a weapon? Maybe… with words. Like Lincoln’s speeches, or, a blog.
And maybe all those years ago, Wyatt’s soldier had been gay, too. Like me. Like Lincoln. And now people are finding out.
            But… Wyatt didn’t want to get three weeks of detention. Or get suspended. Or have to re-do ninth grade! If he dropped the whole thing and deleted his post before midnight, Principal Jackson, Mayor Rails and Mr. Clifton would be happy. As long as none of them tuned into yesterday’s Q Satellite Radio news, which seemed unlikely.
And, even if his parents heard it, nothing in it said anything about him being straight – or not. Roz had been good to her word. He might still get away with his dad and mom never finding out how he really felt about girls… and guys, at least until he was out of high school. He and Mackenzie could stay together as a couple, keeping Jonathon and his sharks at bay. He could get Mackenzie’s help doing a new book report. Maybe even share her book about Abe and Mary, and they’d lean over it and kiss… A mental record-scratch stopped the fantasy. He wasn’t that guy. He wasn’t that straight guy.
            He’d been working all week on his new proof post. And if he didn’t put it up by midnight, Mr. Guzman was going to make him start all over. And deleting that first post would be like admitting he’d made up the whole thing about Lincoln being gay, when it was the truth!
            But… If he kept going with this, if he blogged more about Abe loving Joshua, Jonathon would keep calling him gay.
Then he could keep denying it. After all, he’d never even kissed a guy, and he’d kissed Mackenzie – twice! So that kind of made him straight, in action, at least.
The words came to his mind unbidden,
In judgment but not in feeling…
            He needed to talk to someone. His mom would just say don’t make any waves. And how could he explain to her or his dad why it was so important to tell the world about this without explaining everything? And Mackenzie’s ultimatum had been pretty clear... His soldier just kept smiling – he was cute and all, but what Wyatt needed was an impartial friend to talk to.
            And he didn’t have one.
            The mail slot rattled and Wyatt heard stuff drop in the basket. His dad hated their personal mail sitting out for everyone to see, so he headed over to get it and put it on the desk in his parents’ bedroom. Before he even got to the basket the doorbell rang, making him jump.
            Their mail person was bobbing to the rapping Wyatt could hear through her headphones as he opened the door. “Registered Express Mail!” She shouted. “Needs a signature.” She held out a pen.
            Once he signed the green slip of paper, the mail person tore it off and gave him the cardboard envelope. It was addressed to him. He had a bad feeling about it, and didn’t open it until he got to his room.

* *

Office of the Head Librarian
Lincolnville Public Library
100 South Lincoln Boulevard
Union Square
Lincolnville, OR 20252

January 15

Wyatt Yarrow
542 Hayes Street
Linconville, OR 20252

Re: Your Violation of our Lending Agreement:
Financial Obligations & Legal Repercussions

Dear Mr. Yarrow,
            We regret this letter is necessary, but your refusal to return “Joshua Fry Speed,” a rare reference book in our library’s collection that was erroneously circulated on January 7th and checked out to your account, has left us no choice.
            You are in violation of our lending agreement, and pursuant to the laws of the State of Oregon (Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 375.975, regarding the willful or malicious detention of library property), if the title is not returned by 9am on Monday January 19, your standing as an unemancipated minor and your willful and malicious misconduct will constitute grand theft from our library facility and will result in both civil and criminal actions against you.
            Civil action may also be taken against your parents in this matter, pursuant to ORS 163.577. Specifically, you and your parents will be held jointly and severally liable for damages of the maximum $360.00 plus the replacement cost of the book: well over $12,000.00 given its rarity. Only 250 copies were ever printed, with only 225 of those sold. The last available copy came up at auction in 1954.
            An additional levy of 10% of the civil penalty will be assessed for every 24-hour period you delay beyond this Monday January 19 in returning the library’s rightful property. (Accruing at $1,236.00 a day.)
            This is not to speak of the criminal action that may still be filed against you for this theft. You should note that the value of this rare book escalates this infraction beyond ‘petty theft’ to a full ‘grand theft’ crime, which, as a potential felony charge, would go on your permanent record.
            The de-accessioning of “Joshua Fry Speed” is of our library’s greatest priority, and we urge you to return the book immediately to avoid this future unpleasantness. Of course, if you return the book forthwith, all will be forgiven.
Gravely,
Mr. Ira Clifton, M.L.S.
Head Librarian

* *

            Wyatt’s voice was still shaking as he finished reading the letter over his cell phone to the guy at Legal Advocates of Oregon. After Wyatt had read it to himself the first time, he remembered that hot guy singing about the Revolutionary War General being gay – and how the next video to come up after that had been some civil rights organization… He’d found them online, and the second he saw the Gay Pride Rainbow flag on their website, he’d called. When the guy answered, ‘hello, Legal Advocates of Oregon,’ Wyatt had barreled into it.
            When Wyatt was done the guy whistled, long and low. “Wow, they’re really trying to scare you, aren’t they?”
            “It’s working.” Wyatt admitted.
            The guy asked, “What’s in the book?”
            Wyatt paused. What if this lawyer was going to get all mad at him, too? Lincoln was a lawyer, maybe there was some all-lawyers-stick-together pack mentality and they wouldn’t want to help Wyatt after all. Maybe they’d think he was messing with a national hero… But it was already after five on a Friday – he was lucky he hadn’t gotten voicemail. And who else was he going to ask for help from before midnight? Maybe he could get some general advice, without having to go into it. He’d been quiet too long, and knew he had to say something. “I don’t see what that has to do with anything–”
            The guy cut him off with a scoff, like he was just some dumb kid. “It has everything to do with it!” Then his voice got kind again. “Come on, Wyatt. You can tell me. What are they so afraid of?”
            It felt like jumping off a cliff, but Wyatt told him. Everything. The guy just listened. Wyatt even told him how to find his blog online, and waited while he read it. Then Wyatt could hear him watching the video. The guy started chuckling. Wyatt wasn’t sure if it was at him.
            “No way! Wyatt, that’s awesome!”
            Wyatt’s shoulders dropped in relief. The guy, even if he was a lawyer, was cool with it. But, “I don’t feel awesome. That letter–”
            He cut Wyatt off again. “Lincoln, queer! I love it!”
            “About the letter?”
            “Ahemm.” The guy cleared his throat, and got back into lawyer-mode. “It’s not about the book. Snap some cell-phone shots and give them the book back. All you really need is the proof, right?”
            Wyatt hadn’t thought of that – it was a pretty genius idea. “Yeah, I guess… What about being suspended? I have another post I want to do, one that really proves Abe was in love with Joshua. I was going to put it up this afternoon, ‘cause my teacher gave me this deadline, but the Principal said if I don’t take the blog down by tonight he might even suspend me…”
            “Well, if you’re asking for legal advice, I… Uh…”
            “Martin?” Wyatt heard a woman’s voice, like someone was shouting at the guy from another room. “Did I just hear you say legal advice?”
            Wyatt could hear her voice getting louder. “Did you get my cell to work, or are calls still forwarding to yours? Who are you talking to?”
            “Wait. You’re Martin?” Wyatt asked. “The guy who sang on that video?”
The hot guy?
            “Uh…”
            “Dude! You’re a lawyer? You’re like my age.” If Martin was just playing him for a fool then maybe he wasn’t so hot after all.
            “No! I’m not… I was just trying to…”
            There was noise, some rustling, and Wyatt heard the woman say “Shh!” And then she was on the phone with him. “Hello?”
            Wyatt wasn’t sure what to say. “Hi…”
            “I’m terribly sorry about that. My son is not qualified to be giving legal advice until he goes to law school and PASSES THE BAR EXAM!” That sounded more for Martin’s benefit than Wyatt’s.
Wyatt heard Martin’s “I wasn’t–” but it stopped short as the woman spoke.
“I’m Rhonda Sykes – and no, not the comedienne, she’s ‘Wanda.’ I’m the attorney of record and field representative for Legal Advocates of Oregon. How can I help?”
            “He got a threatening letter!” Martin’s voice – he must have still been right there. “He outed Lincoln as queer for an online book report, and now the library’s threatening to sue him for thousands of dollars so they can get the book back and hush it up! And his Principal wants to suspend him!”
            Wyatt could hear Rhonda put her hand over the phone, but he could still make out, “I told you to hush.”
            “He’s right.” Wyatt told her, thinking that at least the hot guy was a good listener. “That’s pretty much what’s going on. Can they do it?”
            “How about you email me the letter, and we’ll see. Are you a minor? They can’t be sending a minor a threatening letter.”
Wyatt almost laughed with relief. This time, he didn’t want to be any older. He’d need to tell her about the Q Satellite Radio show, too. “Yeah.”
“And, if it’s an issue of free speech, it sounds like your Principal’s just blowing hot air. Don’t worry. You’re not in this alone.”
Sometimes, it was good to be a kid.
            Wyatt snapped a photo of the letter with his cell and emailed it to Rhonda. They spent the next hour before Wyatt had to go down for dinner going over it. From ‘You are in violation’ to “permanent record,’ it turned out Martin was right – they were just trying to scare Wyatt. He legally had thirty days after their written notice to return the book before they could do anything to him – something Mr. Clifton hadn’t mentioned about ORS 357.975.
            Sneaky jerk.
            But Rhonda, and even Martin, were pretty cool.

* *

            Wyatt’s parents thought he was getting a ‘good night sleep’ – after all, tomorrow was his first ‘big date’ with Mackenzie, taking her to their high school’s Purple and Gold Pep Rally. But instead of sleeping, Wyatt sat at the window seat in his room, holding the old-fashioned key to the bookcase downstairs. The midnight deadline was approaching, and he was trying to figure out what to do.
            Rhonda had said it was his choice, and if Wyatt wanted to he could let it go – return the book, delete the blog, let life go back to normal. At that suggestion, Martin had shouted to him in the background, “No! Blog more about Lincoln being gay!” Rhonda had stopped him, saying it was Wyatt’s life, and Wyatt’s call. But it felt pretty great that someone wanted him to keep talking about it… He bet Roz would want him to keep talking about it, too.
And if Wyatt did decide to blog more about Abe loving Joshua, Rhonda had promised to back him up and make sure he wasn’t suspended for simply speaking his mind and exercising his First Amendment right of free speech.
            Wyatt pushed the registered Express Mail envelope and the official-looking letter from the library further from him on the cushion. It was crazy how he could be so freaked out by it one minute, and then a couple of hours later the same thing didn’t bother him so much. It was just an adult being a bully on paper, trying to get his way. Well, the letter’s ‘we’ probably meant Mayor Rails was behind it, too.
            What were they even going to do with the book once they got it back? Just put in on the reference shelf to make sure it didn’t leave the building again? Would they even let people see it?
            Why give the book back ‘till he had to? Thirty days gave him until Sunday February 15 – and their final blog post was due February 12. So he was good. He’d return it after the 12th, in plenty of time before it was really due, and they couldn't do a thing to him.
            Or, he could just take those photos like Martin said and return the book. Maybe he’d post the whole thing on his blog. After all, Martin had pointed out it was long out of Copyright. And Rhonda had said Wyatt didn’t even need to ‘dignify their threats with a response.’
            He decided to put the letter away. Why have it out for his dad or mom to stumble on and get all freaked out themselves? They sure didn’t have an extra $12,360.00 lying around. Wyatt grabbed the letter to put it back in the Express Mail cardboard sleeve when his eye caught on the first line of the last paragraph:
                        The de-accessioning of “Joshua Fry Speed” is of our library’s greatest
priority…”
            He’d forgotten to ask Rhonda about that, but it was already 10:43 p.m. Too late to call her again tonight. But she must have seen it, he’d sent her the whole thing. It couldn't be that important. Still, he wished he knew what ‘de-accessioning’ meant.
            He crept downstairs to the reception computer to look it up.
‘Deaccessioning: The process of disposing, selling or trading objects from a museum collection.’
            The hair prickled on the back of Wyatt’s head. They didn’t want the book back to keep it safe. They were going to get rid of it. They wanted to destroy the evidence that Lincoln was gay! And if they did, maybe no one would be able to prove the truth, ever again.
            Wyatt couldn’t let that happen.
Abe loving Joshua was important. It could change everything. And if all Wyatt had was words and a blog, then that’s how he’d fight.
            A hint of a smile played on Wyatt’s lips as he thought of Principal Jackson’s gun-firing advice. If their trying-to-scare-him letter was the bullet, then they deserved one hell of a kickback.
* *
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Endnotes
In this chapter, Mr. Clifton sends Wyatt the letter stating that the Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend book is very rare. While the estimated value is my invention, it is true that the book is quite rare. As it says on the page facing pg. 70,
“Two hundred fifty copies of this book have been printed by the Standard Printing Company, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky. …Bound and completed during the month of August, 1943. Only two hundred twenty-five copies for sale.”
-->
The copy I found and read numerous times throughout the writing of this book was from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection in Los Angeles, California.
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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 Twelve? It will be posted on November 24, 2017. 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, November 15, 2017

Saving Montgomery Sole - A teen with two moms and a gay best friend confronts the mysterious parts of life



Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki
Montgomery Sole is a square peg in a small town, forced to go to a school full of jocks and girls who don't even know what irony is. It would all be impossible if it weren't for her best friends, Thomas and Naoki. The three are also the only members of Jefferson High's Mystery Club, dedicated to exploring the weird and unexplained, from ESP and astrology to super powers and mysterious objects.

Then there's the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet Monty bought online. Will it help her predict the future or fight back against the ignorant jerks who make fun of Thomas for being gay or Monty for having two moms? Maybe the Eye is here just in time, because the newest resident of their small town is scarier than mothmen, poltergeists, or, you know, gym.

Add your review of "Saving Montgomery Sole" in comments!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Guide To Bystander Intervention from the Southern Poverty Law Center


"What’s worse than being targeted for harassment because of who you are? Enduring the harassment while surrounded by bystanders who see what is happening, but do nothing."

The guide is a free downloadable pdf, which you can get here: https://www.splcenter.org/20171005/splc-campus-guide-bystander-intervention

The guide is excellent, and includes this great advice:

Remember, everyone can do something. One of the most important things we can do is to let the person who is targeted know – even if it is through a small gesture – that they are not alone. Research shows that an action as simple as a knowing glance can significantly reduce trauma for the person harassed.
Here's to making our world a better, safer place for all - and for safely doing our bit!
Lee

Friday, November 10, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Ten

In Chapter Nine, Jonathon slams Wyatt in a blog post, Mackenzie demands Wyatt stop saying Lincoln was gay, and Mr. Guzman calls Wyatt and Jonathon out on their impending online flame war.

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 Ten!


* *





Chapter 10
Thursday January 15

            “Hello, Wyatt?” The woman had called his cell in the middle of his algebra homework.
“Yeah?” He answered cautiously. He didn’t recognize her voice.
“This is Roz from Q Satellite Radio. I’d like to interview you about your blog.”
            “Uh, wow.” Wyatt got up and closed the door to his bedroom. She sounded friendly.
            “We’re always interested in local L.G.B.T.Q. news with national interest.”
            National interest? “That… sounds cool. But, I’m not…” He couldn’t say the word.
            “We won’t even talk about you.” Roz assured him. “Just the blog and Lincoln. Okay?”
            “Okay.”
            “And, before I start recording, you’re eighteen, so I don’t need parental permission, right?”
            “Actually–” Wyatt started but Roz cut him off.
            “I’m going to stop you right there, before I hear anything I can’t un-hear.”
There was a moment of quiet that made Wyatt nervous.
            “Let me ask you this,” Roz said. “Do you think your parents listen to Q Satellite Radio: News for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning and Queer Community?”
            Wyatt snorted a laugh, “That’s a No.”
            “Well then. I’ll ask again. And this time, I’m recording. Hi Wyatt. Just confirming, you’re eighteen, so you don’t need parental permission?”
            Wyatt swallowed hard. Who knew, getting on this radio program and talking about his blog might even help him win the who-can-get-the-most visits contest, and then he could get those new running shoes. Get an ‘A’ in history. Be one of the grand marshals in the parade. And, more people would know the truth about Lincoln.
But his dad and mom… Well, like she said. They wouldn’t even know.
            “Yeah, I’m eighteen.” He heard himself say. “We don’t need it.”

* *

Q Satellite Radio: News for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning and Queer CommunityTranscript of Thursday January 15 Broadcast7:07 – 7:09 p.m., Pacific Time Roz: Next, we have a local news story that will warm your gay little hearts. When you were in high school, what did you want to do? Get over your acne? Get the girl? Get the boy? Get both? Oregon high schooler Wyatt has set his sights quite a bit higher… he wants to change the world.
Wyatt: I just think, if people knew the truth, things would be different.
Roz: And that truth?
Wyatt: Lincoln was gay.
Roz: That’s Abraham Lincoln he’s speaking of. And Wyatt should know. He’s something of a Lincoln expert.
Wyatt: So Lincoln wrote all these letters to this guy, Joshua Fry Speed, and they’re in this book…
Roz: Wyatt says that the 175-year old letters reveal something no one would have expected.
Wyatt: I think he loved Speed. But, they didn’t have gay marriage back then. They didn’t have any chance…
Roz: Not like today. But even today, there are still places in our world where it’s illegal to be gay. Illegal to follow your heart. Illegal to just be yourself. And Wyatt wants to change that, with his blog on President Lincoln’s love life, Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill. What do you hope happens with your blog?
Wyatt:  I hope people look at it and really think about it. If Lincoln loved another guy, it says something about who he was. About who anybody can be. It can change how everyone sees gay people. It can change... the world!
Roz: Pretty inspiring. Thanks for talking with us, Wyatt, and good luck with changing the world. It needs teenagers like you.
Wyatt: Thanks, Roz.
Roz: That was Wyatt, who attends high school, and whose family owns the ‘Lincoln Slept Here B&B,’ in Lincolnville, Oregon.


“It turned out to be a great piece.” Roz said when Wyatt called her after the show.
It had been pretty cool to hear himself on the radio, even if it was satellite radio and nobody he knew would ever hear it. “Hey, Roz?” A question nagged at him. “How did you find out about my blog?”
“Our tip line, actually.” Roz explained. “We’re always looking for stories, but this one came to us. The caller didn’t give a name, but left your website and phone number. They said it was a story that could be a big deal.”
Mackenzie? Wyatt wondered. “Was it a girl?”
“No, sounded like a boy.” Roz said. “I remember because he called it Death Star Big, which was a rather unique way of putting it.”
Death Star Big? Who the heck?
He had no idea.
“Oh well. Thanks, Roz.”
“Sure.”

* *


* * 

Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here.

Ready for Chapter Eleven? It will be posted on November 17, 2017.

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, November 8, 2017

Jerkbait - Twins struggle with one of them being a secretly gay ice hockey star, and the other having a very different dream



Jerkbait by Mia Siegert

Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all--until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as "Jimmy2416." Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go--and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Witch Eyes - A Gay Teen is caught in a war between Witch Dynasties...



Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.

The first in a series, you can add your review of "Witch Eyes" in comments!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Nine

In Chapter Eight, Wyatt's grilled by his parents - why would he try to sabotage their livelihood, endanger his future, flunk his class... to say Lincoln was gay - which can't possibly be true? Is there something he needs to tell them about himself? Wyatt lies his way out of it, focused on proving Lincoln's love for Joshua Fry Speed is true.

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

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Okay community, here's Chapter Nine!




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Chapter Nine

Tuesday January 13

            Before he even got to the History classroom door, Mackenzie pulled Wyatt aside. She sounded angry. “Did you see this?”
She handed him her phone. Wyatt took it, and read.

Jonathon Rails’ Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.Lincolnville High School.Book: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. 
REAL MEN. REAL AMERICA. NO QUEERS.
 Blog Post: Monday, January 13, 4:42 p.m.

Wyatt is a big queer. That’s why he’s saying one of the greatest presidents in our Nation’s history was gay.
By choosing a hero from our history to make pretend gay, Wyatt is trying to make himself feel better about his own sick lifestyle choice.
It’s like Lincoln said in his first public debate with Douglas (page 32):
                        “With public sentiment, nothing can fail.
Without it, nothing can succeed.” 
So Wyatt can try to re-write history by inventing all this stuff about Lincoln being gay, but as long as no one believes him, he won’t succeed.
 Keep reading this blog, because I’m here to save history. And all Wyatt’s doing is letting everyone know that he’s a big homo.

* *

Wyatt looked up at Mackenzie, feeling shell-shocked.
“You’ve got to stop saying this stuff about Lincoln.” Mackenzie told him. “It’s becoming a problem for us.”
“Us?” Wyatt said. “He’s trash-talking me, thank you very much.”
“I’m your girlfriend.” Mackenzie pulled her black skirt straighter. “This affects me, too! It’s like you’re on some vendetta to ruin Lincoln’s reputation.”
Wyatt could feel the anger building inside him. “Why does it diminish who he was or what he did if he loved another guy?”
“You can’t seriously be asking me that. That’s like the gayest question I’ve ever heard. Lincoln was married!”
“That’s what gay people did back then. They hid how they really felt–”
Mackenzie cut him off. “They had four children – two of whom died – Eddie at four, Willie when he was twelve. Lincoln suffered huge depressions about it, and Mary? She was a wreck, even with the séances. How can you have so little respect for her legacy? For their whole family?”
Strolling to their classroom, Jonathon lobbed, “Hey, homo!” at Wyatt, then paused to check Mackenzie out. “Heyyy, Mackenzie.”
Homo? He’d show Jonathon. Fighting past the awkwardness, Wyatt leaned forward and pursed his lips to kiss his girlfriend. Mackenzie stepped back, away from him. He knew she was feeling used. And he was using her – or he’d just tried to.  He could feel the shame rising up his neck to his ears. The start-of-class bell rang.
Mackenzie sounded bitter as she eyed Wyatt coldly. “You have a decision to make. Lincoln and Mary had this beautiful traditional family – and there’s power in that. Maybe because you have it, you don’t appreciate just how precious it is. But if we’re going to stay together, you need to stop saying that Lincoln was gay. You need to start believing in the beauty of family. Otherwise, I can’t keep doing this.” She stomped into the classroom.
Jonathon hung back, smirking. “It must be hard for a queer to keep a girl happy. Especially one as hot as Mackenzie.”
Wyatt’s hands balled into fists, but he didn’t dare say any of the million come-backs swirling in his mind, all of which started with Shut up!
Instead, Wyatt stared at the linoleum and started planning the stuff he could say about Jonathon online – how’d he get to be so muscle-bound at sixteen, anyway? If they drug-test for the Olympics, why not for high school athletes? Under his breath, Wyatt said, “Just wait till you read my blog…”
There was a tongue-click and then Mr. Guzman said, “There’s a saying about how getting something off the internet is like getting pee out of a swimming pool.” When he spoke, both Wyatt and Jonathon realized their teacher was standing in the doorway, listening. “You can try to cover it up, but it’s always going to be there. Why don’t you gentlemen join us? We need to have a class discussion about flame wars, and how yours stops now.”

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Chapter Nine Endnotes


Jonathon quotes Lincoln again for his blog, “With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” This is from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and was said by Lincoln at his first debate with Judge Douglas in Ottawa, Illinois on August 21, 1858. A transcript of that debate is online at the national park service’s website here http://www.nps.gov/liho/historyculture/debate1.htm and the quote is also found on page 32 of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.


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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 Ten? Click here.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dishes - A straight college-aged teen guy spends the summer in very gay Ogunquit, Maine



Dishes: A Novel by Rich Wallace

Ogunquit, Maine. That’s not where you’d expect to find a guy like Danny. He’s not a tourist. He’s not a local. And he’s definitely not gay. As far as he can tell, only he and the bartender at Dishes, where he works as a dishwasher, are straight. But that’s not what bothers Danny. What bothers him is that he’s got straight-guy problems in a very gay town. While he’s hitting on a cute waitress, the cute waiters are hitting on him. And could the cute waitress have a thing for his thirty-six-year-old dad? It’s one crazy summer in a crazy Maine town.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Spirit Level - A Teen Girl tracks down her same-biological donor half-siblings and falls for a Trans Guy



Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey

Harriet (known as Harry) is a donor-conceived child who has never wanted to reach out to her half-siblings or donor--until now. Feeling adrift after a breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Harry tracks down her half-siblings, two of whom are in Seattle, where Harriet lives. The first girl she meets is fifteen-year-old Lucy, an effervescent half-Japanese dancer. Then she meets Meredith, a troubled girl who is always accompanied by her best friend, Alex. Harry and Alex are attracted to each other, much to Meredith's chagrin, and when it becomes clear that Meredith is an accomplished liar, Harry makes it her business to figure out what Meredith is up to. In the course of her investigation, she discovers a lot about Meredith, but the biggest shock is not about Meredith--it's about Alex, who was born female. So now Harry must deal with not only her growing attraction to Alex, but also Meredith's hostility. As decisions are made around whether to contact their donor, the three donor sisters negotiate their relationship and Harry tries to figure out what she really wants.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Eight

In Chapter Seven, Wyatt faced pushback on his thesis that Lincoln was in love with another guy -- which made him more determined than ever to prove it really happened. Only, now his parents have found out...

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.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Eight!




Chapter Eight

Monday January 12

            20 Questions

Wyatt’s mom’s turn:
1.     “What were you thinking?”
2.     “Why would you say Lincoln was gay?”
3.     “Does this book come right out and say he was gay?
4.     “Well if it doesn’t, why would you make something like that up?”
5.     “So you, without even a ninth grade education, are suddenly a Lincoln scholar?”
6.     “You know more than all those Ph.D.s and experts combined?”
7.     “Were you going to tell us about the ‘F’?
8.     “Do you just want to fail out of school now?”
9.     “It’s like a tidal wave about to smash our boat! Did you ever stop and think what effect this could have?”
10.  “What about your father – and all of this, his dream?”
11.  “How are we going to keep our business?”
12.  “How are you ever going to get a job?”
13.  “You don’t think H.R. departments check on things like this?”
14.  “Colleges?”
15.  “You could be sued! It’s called libel. Heard of it?”
16.  “Can we erase it from the internet?”
17.  “We were right when we said you weren’t mature enough yet to be on social media, weren’t we?
18.  “Why didn’t you just give the book back to him?”
19.  “What are people going to say?”

Wyatt’s dad’s turn:
20.  “Are you gay?”

“I have a girlfriend – I’m not gay!” Wyatt managed to work up some outrage with his lie. “But Lincoln was!”
He wasn’t ready, and they were too freaked out. What if they hated him when they found out – stopped loving him? If they knew the truth, would anyone love him, ever again?
He’d thought this would be a way to break the news gently. I mean, if Abe was gay, and great, it shouldn’t be that big a deal, right?
Wrong. Look how upset they are about Lincoln. And he’s not their only son.
“Lincoln was not gay!” The pressure-cooker vein in Wyatt’s dad’s forehead stood out. “Just saying it, and on somewhere as public as the internet, is like inviting disaster – the word of mouth on this will kill us!”
Gay = Disaster. Gee, thanks, Dad.
“Why? Why is it so bad if he was?” Wyatt was getting mad, and it was safer to move the focus and defend someone else’s right to be gay – someone long dead, far from him. “If you read the letters, if you look at the facts, it’s really obvious that Abe was in love with Joshua – and that makes them gay, or bi, or whatever you want to call it, but two guys in love with each other? That’s pretty gay! Which means that history is just a bunch of lies we’re being fed. And we’re feeding them!” He turned on his mom. “And the parade, all about Abe and Mary’s romance? It’s like this conspiracy to make a famous gay person straight. I mean, who else was gay that the people in charge of history aren’t telling us about? Alexander the Great? Shakespeare? Gandhi?”
His mom frowned at him. “Sweetie… You can’t start imagining that everyone is gay.”
Wyatt’s whole face felt scrunched up. “Well, why is it okay to imagine that everyone in history is straight, when we know that can’t possibly be true, either?”
His dad measured every word. “Lincoln. Was. Not. Gay.”

“Yeah, Dad. I hear you. But you’re wrong. And I’m going to prove it.”

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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right her on this blog? Click here.

Ready for Chapter Nine? Click here.

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