Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stretch Goals for the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Kickstarter!

We did it (in 6 days)! What an amazing community! Now, let's empower even more LGBTQ and Allied Teens!

If we reach $11,500:

On behalf of all of you, I’ll donate a bonus 50 copies of “Queer as a Five-Dollar bill” to a QAAFDB Nonprofit Partner (see below for the call for QAAFDB Nonprofit Partners.)

Stretch Goal Call for QAAFDB Nonprofit Partners

For every $1,000 raised beyond our initial goal, we can donate a bonus 50 copies of “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” to LGBTQ and Allied Teens (over and above the donated copies built into the backer rewards.)

And here’s the cool new twist: while the backer reward-donated copies will be distributed with the help of Camp Brave Trails in Los Angeles/Southern California, there are LGBTQ and Allied teens who could be empowered by knowing this secret from history, by reading this novel, who live in YOUR area, too. And each case of 50 bonus copies can be given away to LGBTQ and Allied Teens by one of those nonprofit partners!

So let’s do some matchmaking!

  • We’re looking for nonprofits who work with LGBTQ Teens.
  • Who will commit to distributing 50 free copies of “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” to their LGBTQ and Allied Teens.
  • Who will agree to help vet the book with the language: “A [name of nonprofit] Recommended Read!” (This is super-important as the book isn’t being vetted by traditional publishing.)
  • Who will share about the project with their community (i.e., via email and/or newsletter.)

Think you’ve got a likely match? Have a point person at that nonprofit reach out to me at: leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com and we’ll get it set up. Please note:

  • First come, first served.
  • QAAFDB Nonprofit Partners will be announced in September 2018.
  • If more bonus copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" are available for donation than there are QAAFDB Nonprofit Partners, they will be distributed with the help of Camp Brave Trails.

Let’s see how far we can take this.

Let’s see how many LGBTQ and Allied Teens we can empower!

Thank you for your help, and for continuing to spread the word!

How many copies will be donated to LGBTQ and Allied Teens so far?

Visit this blog “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?” at and check out the top right column for a daily updated total! It's magical, watching the number grow!

Visit the Kickstarter Campaign for "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" here!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 24

If you'd like to help empower LGBTQ Teens by funding both the professional publishing of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" AND the donation of at least 400 paperback copies of the novel to LGBTQ and Allied Teens, please visit my Kickstarter Project here:

* *
In Chapter Twenty-Three, Wyatt and Martin team up to open up another front in the culture war... by changing all the banners in their town advertising Abe and Mary's great love to read: "Abe and JOSHUA: A Great Love." Back at the B&B, the pressure's building, but Wyatt realizes there's no going back. If you're going through hell, don't stop. Keep going, that's the only way through. And he and Martin head out to do one more gorilla-style LGBTQ Pride action.

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-Four!

* *

* *

Chapter 24
Sunday January 25

            Wyatt got up thinking about how it was his mom’s pick for their Sunday movie. Outside, the sky was cloudy but bright. He wished they hadn’t seen the Bond movie yet, since Martin would have probably wanted to see it. Maybe his mom would let him switch weeks and they could watch 007 save the world again. He pulled on yesterday’s jeans to go ask Martin what movie he’d want to see. After all, his parents had wanted to give Mackenzie a turn and she hadn’t been living with them!
            He spotted the envelope on the floor, like someone had slipped it under the door while he’d been sleeping.
            Wyatt opened it, and read:

                        Went to get some daylight pics for the blog, to take us over 4 million.
                                    Yours Forever,

            Yours Forever? Abe’s words to Joshua. And now Martin’s to him… But Wyatt wasn’t going there. He couldn’t.
            He stumbled to his door and swung it open to head down to the kitchen. His mom was standing there, like she’d been about to knock.
            “Hey,” Wyatt said, rubbing one eye and hiding Martin’s note in his back pocket.
            “Sweetie.” His mom was way-serious. “We need you to come downstairs.”
            The air seemed to slow Wyatt down when he saw Mackenzie’s father, standing in the entryway with Wyatt’s own dad. Mr. Miller was all dressed up like a police officer, which Wyatt had always thought was funny, since he was just a parking ticket cop. But nothing about this looked funny.
            Was it about Mackenzie? Or had Mr. Miller seen them last night?
            Behind Wyatt on the stairs, his mom prodded him to keep walking.
            Looking like he hadn’t gotten enough sleep, Mr. Miller didn’t even say hello, just stared at Wyatt’s jeans. Wyatt glanced down. There was a smear of green paint by his left knee.
            “I guess I’ve caught you green-handed, huh? Should I just cuff you here, or are you going to come peacefully?”
            Wyatt’s voice cracked. “You’re arresting me?”
            “No one’s arresting anyone.” Rhonda had followed them down the stairs and walked forward to hand Mr. Miller her card.
            He read it and gave her a wary look. “Counselor.”
            Rhonda noted his badge. “Parking Enforcement Officer Miller.”
            He bristled. “I’m in training! I’ve got him on vandalism and defacing public property.”
            “Where’s your proof?” Martin came in the open front door, and walked around to stand at Wyatt’s side. Wyatt thought it was a pretty superhero move, even with the guitar strapped across Martin’s chest.
Mr. Miller was all suspicious about Martin and the backpack in his hand. “What else did you and your friend vandalize? What’s in the bag, young man?”
            Martin shrugged. “My stuff.” He didn’t seem that freaked out. Maybe Wyatt was freaking out enough for both of them.
            “Care to show me?” Mr. Miller reached for the bag.
            Rhonda put out a hand to stop him. “I’ll thank you to not interrogate or illegally search my clients without probable cause. That would be police – or parking enforcement officer – harassment.”
            Mr. Miller glared at Rhonda. “You want to see probable cause?” He went down the front porch steps to his car, parked by the curb. Wyatt saw that the back of Mr. Miller’s car was stuffed with cream-colored fabric.
Yanking out a rectangle as big as he was, Mr. Miller stomped back up the steps. He thrust the material at them. “How’s this?”
            It was one of the Abe and Mary banners, chopped off top and bottom, with their JOSHUA bumper sticker over Mary’s name.
            “So that’s where they all are.” Martin whispered to Wyatt. He turned to Mr. Miller. “Cutting them down’s a little extreme, isn’t it? Couldn’t you have just taken the stickers off?”
            “Stop talking!” Rhonda snapped at Martin, and cut her eyes to Wyatt, ordering the same.
            “They don’t come off!” Mr. Miller tugged on a sticker edge to prove it. The banner fabric tore, leaving a ragged gap.
            Oh… Wyatt realized it would have to be some pretty strong adhesive to stay on a car bumper. He hadn’t really thought of that.
            Rhonda stepped between Mackenzie’s dad and Wyatt and Martin. “You can’t prove that was done by my clients.”
            “Your…” Mr. Miller’s face reddened. “Who else would it be?” He tried to get past her to their Lincoln and Civil War Memorabilia Alcove by reception. “They sell bumper stickers here, don’t they?”
            They had used up all the bumper sticker paper, but Wyatt realized the empty box was still in the trash can right under the computer. Mr. Miller would see it if he went behind the counter! A trickle of sweat slid down Wyatt’s back.
            Rhonda stayed on Mr. Miller like it was man-on-man defense and backed him up to the front door. “You’ll need to come back with a warrant.”
            Wyatt’s cell vibrated in his pocket. He stole a glance at the text.

                        Mackenzie                  10:28 a.m.
                        emergency! I need you here 1pm.
                        about my mom.

            Her mom? Wyatt pocketed it before Mackenzie’s dad could maybe see it.
Wyatt’s lingering anger at Mackenzie – waiting for an apology after she was going to break things off with Jonathon – suddenly felt petty. She had news about her mom? Wyatt should be there for her. He would be there. That was, if he wasn’t in jail.
            “Really?” Mr. Miller stared at Wyatt’s dad and mom, who were standing as still as wax-Lincoln. “You’re going to make me go bother the Chief and a judge on a Sunday morning to get a freakin’ warrant, when anyone can just walk in there and buy a bear? Who is this crazy woman?”
Wyatt’s dad cleared his throat. “Ms. Sykes is our lawyer.”
They stood in a silent face-off. Then Makenzie’s dad said, “I’ll be back,” and clomped down the front porch stairs.
Rhonda called after him, “No, you won’t!”
Wyatt liked how she didn’t give him the last word.
But the second Mr. Miller drove off, the adults were all talking at once.
“What were you thinking?” Wyatt’s mom.
“We’re trying to put out the fire and you’re pouring kerosine on it?” Wyatt’s dad.
And Rhonda: “What’s the paint about?”
            Wyatt tackled Rhonda’s question, since it was the safest. “We just painted the School Rock. Everyone’s allowed to – it’s the rules.”
            Rhonda gave her son and Wyatt a pained expression. “They’re not going to be playing by the rules. You both need to be model citizens moving forward. Understood?”
            They nodded, Wyatt thinking how the bumper sticker box would make the perfect kindling for the fire he was about to start in the living room fireplace.

* *

            Mackenzie looked surprised that it wasn’t just Wyatt at the door. Martin was with him, guitar in hand.
“What’s he doing here?” Mackenzie asked.
            Wyatt ignored that and asked his own question, “Your dad’s not here, is he?”
            “No. He’s having coffee in Philomath.”
            “Good.” Wyatt caught eyes with Martin and they both relaxed.
Mackenzie didn’t move from the doorway.
“Can we come in? Geez.” Wyatt pushed his way past her. “Is your power out?” He reached for the light switch but Mackenzie put her hand out to stop him.
            “It’s supposed to be dark.”
            Wyatt gave her a strange look as her cat Tali, drawn to the warm sunlight, rubbed by her leg. Martin noticed, and Mackenzie snapped at him as she scooped up the cat, “It’s not a sing-along, you know.”
            “I don’t know what it is.” Martin answered her. “I’m here because of Wyatt.”
            Mackenzie turned and whisper-hissed at Wyatt, “I thought it was just going to be you!”
            “Well, is this an emergency, or isn’t it?” Wyatt asked. “We can both go, or we both stay. You said it was about your mom.”
            “Fine.” She whipped around on Martin. “But this is serious. You have to be respectful!”
            Martin put up both hands, all innocent. “I’ll give what I get.”
            Mackenzie pushed the front door closed with her shoulder and let Tali go. She gestured to the entry bench. “You can leave your guitar and shoes there. You won’t need them.”
            She nodded a late ‘welcome’ to Wyatt as he kicked off his sneakers.
He gave her a half-smile. “How did it go with Jonathon?”
Mackenzie made a face, “I can’t talk about it. I have to concentrate on what we’re doing.”
“What are we doing, again?” Martin asked, settling his guitar on the bench and lining up his loafers neatly under it.
“Did you hear from her?” Wyatt asked. “Your mom?”
Wyatt had filled Martin in on Mackenzie’s missing mom on the way over, and they both looked at her expectantly.
“Follow me.” The shades were down, and Mackenzie led them along the darkened hallway to her bedroom.
Wyatt took it all in. Unlit candles set up in the four corners; North, South, East, West. Ivory Scrabble game letters A through Z arranged face-up on the back of a game board in the middle of the floor. She’d used black marker on the blank side of ten extra tiles for the numbers 0 to 9. And then on two pieces of paper, she’d drawn a sun with the word ‘Yes’ next to it, and a Moon by the word ‘No.’ There was also a pink plastic heart about the size of Wyatt’s palm, probably an old preschool toy, sitting on the board.
Another unlit candle with three wicks sat on the board, near a pen and paper, and a photo of Mackenzie’s mom laughing – Wyatt remembered that birthday party when Mackenzie had gotten a trampoline – she’d been twelve. Mackenzie’s hair today looked exactly like her Mom’s in the picture: red and super-long.
“We’re going to do a séance.” She told them.
“What?” Wyatt thought for a second that she was joking, but that was a lot of prep for a joke. “Why?”
“Mary had eight séances in the White House. Why more than once if it didn’t work?” Mackenzie lit the vanilla-scented candle on the board. “I think it did work.”
“Doesn’t it need to be dark out?” Wyatt asked.
“Why would ghosts care?” Martin shrugged, walking around the room and checking it out. “They don’t need sunglasses or anything.”
“Not ghosts, spirits.” Mackenzie corrected as she lit the other candles.
Martin picked up a two-sided framed postcard of Machu Picchu, Peru, and turned it over. He read aloud, “Dearest Mackenzie, the Incas were amazing! Hope to show you someday,”
“Hey! That’s personal!” Mackenzie raced over and took the framed postcard from him, re-setting it on her bedside table.
“It was just sitting there...” Martin looked at Wyatt. “The next line was happy birthdays. Not happy birthday.”
“It’s the last card she got from her mom.” Wyatt told him. “Right after she turned thirteen.”
Martin made a face like he’d really messed up. “Sorry…”
“You know what, let’s just focus.” Mackenzie said, heading back to her setup in the middle of the room’s white carpet. “This is a Spirit Board.” She plunged into explaining. They were each to sit on one side of the board, fingertips of both hands on the pink plastic heart, that she called a ‘planchette.’ She gave them strict instructions that they weren’t supposed to move it, but let the spirits move through them.
“You really think you can find out about your mom this way?” Wyatt tried to keep his voice gentle, but this was crazy.
Mackenzie just nodded yes.
Wyatt shared a dubious look with Martin, and they sat down.
“Sensi Jodi in Karate says that if you play a string on a biwa–” Mackenzie started but Martin interrupted her,
“What’s a biwa?”
“It’s like a Japanese guitar.” Mackenzie explained. “Anyway, she was saying that if you play a string on it, it will make the same string vibrate on another biwa. It’s sort of about teamwork and how the dojo has an energy you can tap into.”
Wyatt looked over and caught Martin nodding.
Mackenzie gave a nervous smile. “I’m thinking a séance probably needs an energy, too.”
She took a moment to focus, then sang a clear ‘G’ note. “Ahhh…” She motioned for Wyatt and Martin to join in.
Martin’s lips twitched like he was fighting back a laugh, and she stopped singing and gave him a stern look. “You promised.” She turned to Wyatt. “I’d do this by myself, but I can’t. It won’t work.”
Wyatt gave Martin a ‘come on, let’s try it’ look and they settled back in their places.
“Ahhh…” Mackenzie sang again, and this time they joined her. The air vibrated in harmony.
“Spirits, speak to us!” Mackenzie called out. They fell silent, staring at the plastic heart. “Is my mom there?”
Wyatt thought Mackenzie sounded like she was eight years old again.
They waited a long minute. No response.
“Maybe, ask it in a different way.” Martin suggested.
Mackenzie tried again. “Is there… a message for me?”
Another long wait. Just as Wyatt was about to say he didn’t think it was going to work, their hands slid as the planchette scraped three inches along the board to rest its point against the ‘D’ tile.
Wyatt jerked his hands away like it had burned him. Mackenzie and Martin let go fast, too, knocking some tiles off the board.
Wyatt’s eyes were wide. “I didn’t move it.”
“I didn’t either.” Martin seemed stone-serious now.
Mackenzie’s words sounded like they were squeezed out of her throat. “I know I didn’t.”
Wyatt stood up and paced. “I don’t know, Mackenzie. I don’t think this is such a good idea.”
“Please. I need to know.” Mackenzie blinked hard. “Please, Wyatt.”
Martin reset the letters on the board and gestured with his head for Wyatt to sit down again. “Come on. We said we’d help.”
Wyatt wasn’t happy about it, but he sat. Mackenzie nodded at Martin. She put out trembling fingers to once more join theirs on the planchette.
“Nobody let go.” Martin instructed. “Ask them again.”
Mackenzie spoke the words slowly. “Is. There. A. Message. For. Me?”
Four long seconds passed, and then the planchette swung into action, touching its point at
            It moved faster, and Wyatt saw the hair on Mackenzie’s arms was standing up.
            Mackenzie fought for breath
            Suddenly, the planchette shot off the board, hitting her trash can and making a hollow gong sound.
            Martin scrambled to write it all down.
            “Does it mean something to you?” Martin asked her.
            Mackenzie shook her head.
            The three of them stared at the message.
            It didn’t make any sense. But then, suddenly, Wyatt saw it. He gasped. “Look at it backwards.” He pointed as he spelled it out. “U. R. LOVED.”
            Mackenzie stumbled up with a wild animal scream. Then, her body seemed to crumble. Tears washed her onto her bed and she clutched a pillow to her stomach as waves of loss tossed her about.
            “I know that’s true.” Wyatt sat as close as he could to her, not sure she could hear him over her sobs. “She loves you. Wherever she is, your mom loves you.”
            Mackenzie just kept repeating, “She’s gone – She’s gone – She’s gone –”
            Wyatt held her now, rocking her back and forth. “I know. But she loves you, still.”
            It was all he could think to say, all he could give Mackenzie to hold onto amid the cross currents of grief that wracked her, until finally, exhausted, sleep came for her.

* *

            Careful to not let the cat out, Wyatt eased the condo door closed and he and Martin headed down to the street. Someone had tilled the dirt around the thorny-fingered cut-back rose bushes in the front planter, and something about the smell reminded Wyatt of a freshly dug grave. He shivered.
            Martin made sure his guitar was wedged carefully on the floor behind the driver’s seat, then got in. The second he’d closed the door and they were alone, Wyatt turned on him. “How could you lie to her like that?”
            “What?” Martin started up his mom’s Volvo to get them back to the B&B. Their moms had agreed he could drive the few blocks as long as they were extra careful.
            “Tell me the truth.” Wyatt crossed his arms and leaned against the door. “You moved the thingy.”
            Martin did a slow three-point turn to get them heading South on Grant before he said anything. “Otherwise, we were just going to sit there all day.”
            “I knew it! Martin, now she thinks her mom is dead!”
            “I didn’t sign it from her mom or anything. It could have been a message from a great-great-grandmother. Or… Cleopatra, for that matter.”
“Ha – ha.”
Martin slowed them down as they got to the four-way stop at 6th Street. “Right?”
            “No, one more. She’s sure the message was from her! Oh, grawww! And I broke your stupid code.” Wyatt pushed Martin’s arm. “I can’t believe you made me part of it!”
            “I’m driving here!” Martin scolded.
            Wyatt rolled his eyes. There was no traffic, they were going about 13 miles an hour, and it wasn’t like he’d punched Martin and made him lose control of the car or anything. He drives like an eighty year old. Wyatt seethed as he directed Martin through the painfully slow sequence of turns. Right on 7th. Left on Hayes. And right again into the B&B lot.
Martin’s foot jerked against the accelerator and the old car staggered into the spot. Wyatt braced himself, hoping they wouldn’t hit the foundation latticework. He didn’t want to have to repair it.
            Once they were safely landed and Martin got the car into park, he asked, “She’s not really going to believe it was her mom, will she?” He sounded a little guilty.
            Wyatt ran a hand through his own hair. “I’m going to have to tell her tomorrow that you lied to her. That we lied to her!”
            “I didn’t. We didn’t. She is loved.” Martin shut the car off. “You love her. Anyone can see that.”
            Wyatt sat up taller and tried to peek sideways. Was Martin maybe… jealous?

* *
A sampling of Op-Ed Pieces and Headlines From National Papers that Saturday
Queerville Problems in Oregon
            Teen Catches Lincoln With His Pants Down
            If Lincoln Was Alive Today, Would He Get Gay-Married?
            Small Town Re-Writes History One Gay Bed-Bug At A Time
Could Lincoln Be A Hero For A Whole New Generation?
            If Lincoln Had Gay Orgies In Springfield Then Hitler Was Santa Claus’ Brother
            Homosexuals Kill Lincoln… Again!

* *

Martin was on his laptop in the kitchen, reading Wyatt and his parents the headlines.
            Rhonda walked in, cell phone by her ear. “My contact at the John Stevens Show is calling again… John really wants Wyatt to come on his show.”
            “No!” Wyatt said it fast.
            Martin made a face like Wyatt was making the wrong call, but Wyatt wasn’t going to be set up again. Rhonda left to tell whoever was on the phone that the answer was no. For the third time. No to them and to everyone else who had been asking.
            The B&B line rang. They all froze. It had been non-stop since they had gotten back from Mackenzie’s. Either people screaming at them or cancellations. Wyatt and Martin weren’t allowed to pick it up.
It rang again.
            Wyatt’s dad’s face sagged like a condemned man as he walked over and picked it up on ring number four. He listened. “Yes.” Listened some more. Hung up. And then he just stood there, staring at the phone. Finally, he said, “That’s it.” and pulled the phone jack out of the wall. Then he walked out of the kitchen.
            This is my fault!
            Chair scraping, Wyatt jumped up to follow his dad. He heard him on the stairs. Where was he going?
            Wyatt found him in the Lincoln Room, stripping the sheets off the mattress. His dad usually washed them on the first of the month, but Wyatt guessed he was keeping busy.
The hairs on the pillow! Wyatt remembered in a panic, then found them on the lip of the china wash basin. …Where he’d left them when he’d been in here with Martin. Wyatt’s cheeks blazed just thinking about it. He tipped the hairs into the basin for safe-keeping.
Wyatt’s dad carefully pulled the flat bottom sheet out of the far corner. “Maybe we should call this place something else. Go back to being The Civil War Bed and Breakfast. Sell off all the Lincoln stuff while it’s still worth something.” Wyatt’s dad scanned the room with a sour expression. “Let someone else deal with this headache.”
“But-But…” Wyatt stammered. “What about the bed? Isn’t it always going to be worth a ton?”
His dad folded the sheet on top of the others, in a neater pile than Wyatt did his clean clothes, then crossed the room and shut the door. Wyatt flashed on Martin closing it, and wondered if his dad somehow knew about them being in here yesterday afternoon. If he knew about Wyatt. And then his dad said, “It’s not real.”
Wyatt wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
His dad gestured at the wood bed frame, which seemed naked without its sheets and pillow and quilt. “Well, it’s a real bed. And it’s from the same era, more or less. But it’s not Lincoln’s bed. Not from those years in Springfield. No one knows what happened to that bed.”
Wyatt felt his dad’s words knock the air out of him. “So this whole thing is… a fake?” He had really believed it. And he’d been telling everyone it was real. For years…
“You’ve got to sell people what they want.” His dad said, like that explained it.
Lies. He’d been selling lies. Wyatt had been selling lies.
“Wyatt? You can’t tell your mother.”
He had to get out of the room.
“I never meant for it to make you think Lincoln was gay!” His dad was calling after him, but Wyatt was through the door and already halfway down the stairs.
“You have to understand… Wyatt!”
He let the front door slam behind him, and pumped his legs. Zig-zagged to Grant Street and then down Jenson’s Stream Road. He made a right at the ford, and raced along the bank. Going with the water away from town. Away from everybody.

Away from all the lies.
* *
* *
Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here.

Ready for Chapter Twenty-Five? It will be posted on February 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!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Saturdays with Hitchcock - A Middle Grade Novel Where Maisie is 12, a boy named Gary has a crush on her, and Maisie's best friend Cy (another boy) has a crush on Gary!

Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger

"It's... weird to start feeling all that stuff. Don't you think?"

Twelve-year-old movie-loving Maisie is dealing with the realities of a grandparent with dementia, a mom who’s been laid off from her job, finding out that Gary Hackett like likes her, and a best friend who just confessed that, actually, he like likes Gary.

Maisie’s Uncle Walt, a Hollywood actor, provides a welcome diversion from Maisie’s problems when he comes to stay with her family. Uncle Walt has a way of pointing Maisie in the right direction. And heading to the local independent theater on Saturdays with her best friend, Cyrus, to see old films keeps Maisie grounded as she struggles with growing up, family tensions, and a love triangle she never expected.

I'm so excited about this one – Ellen has won both the Printz Honor and the Lambda Literary Award! Add your review of "Saturdays with Hitchcock" in comments!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I'm on "The Children's Book Podcast" with Matthew Winner!

Hi Community,

This is really exciting. Matthew Winner's indispensable "The Children's Book Podcast" has a new episode: #423, and it's an interview with me!

We talk about "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," the Kickstarter*, LGBTQ history, and how we each have to honor our own light...

It's a really honest conversation, and I'm proud, and humbled, and very grateful that I got to have my voice heard in this way.

My thanks to Matthew, and enjoy the podcast!

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

*The Kickstarter was just featured on Kickstarter's Publishing page as one of the four top "new and noteworthy" projects, and three days in the project has reached 60 backers and achieved 55% of its funding!

Thank you for continuing to spread the word so we can make our goal to empower LGBTQ and Allied Teens!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Proud Parent Moment - Teens Really Can Change The World For The Better!

So my teen and I were having dinner recently, these vegetarian chicken-style nuggets that we like, and she's reading the back of the package while I'm trying to come up with some vegetable to go with it, and she suddenly exclaims that she can't believe what she just read... And asks me if I can believe it. I tell her that if she's really upset about it, she should write to the company. So she did.

Here's her letter:

Hi Gardein Team,
My name is [held back for her privacy], and I am 14 years old. I am a big fan of your seven grain crispy tenders. As I was reading the instructions to make "After School Chick'n Parm Bites" on the back of the package, something bothered me about the language. At the very end of the recipe, it says, "Thanks mom!" This assumes that everyone has a mom, which not everyone does. Also, the title, "After School Chick'n Parm Bites," is implying that this mom is a stay-at-home mom who cooks for her kids. There are so many hidden stereotypes in the wording of this recipe. I have two dads, and I don't feel that everyone is represented in the recipe, including me. These assumptions are subtle, but I think they should be addressed. A simple solution could be to change the title to "Afternoon Chick'n Parm Bites" (not everyone goes to school), and to take out the last sentence completely. I hope you notice the problem with your packaging, and make everyone feel included.
Thank you very much.

About a week later, they responded:

Dear [held back for her privacy],
Thank you for contacting us about our gardein™ products.

We are always grateful when loyal consumers such as you take the time to communicate their experience and feedback with us. We actually recognized the statement at the end of the recipe as well and have removed 'Thanks mom!' from the latest artwork. This will be evident on the packages before the end of the year.

I'd love to send you some coupons in appreciation of being such a great fan...

Thank you again for your feedback and we hope you continue to enjoy gardein products.


WOW! And that's one way the world changes...

I'm inspired, and very proud.

Thanks for letting me share.

(and if you're commenting, please respect my awesome teen's privacy.)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cover Reveal! Kickstarter Launch!

Hi Community,

It's been a roller-coaster, and now things get even more exciting!

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page and see the cover of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill"

The "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Kickstarter is live! And you can check out the cover!

*muppet arms flying in excitement*


Please spread the word. Together, we can make this happen. Because, at the end of the day, this isn't about me, or one book. It's about a movement. You and me. Together. It's about how we can empower LGBTQ Teens and their Allies.

And then all of us, empowered, can change this world for the better.

Thank you!

Feeling humble and grateful,

Friday, February 9, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 23

Don't forget the big cover-reveal and kickstarter launch happens
this Saturday February 10, 2018 at 12 Noon Pacific, 3PM Eastern!


In Chapter Twenty-Two, Mackenzie reaches out and tells Wyatt she's breaking up with Jonathon because of what he said (and didn't say) on the TV show. Wyatt learns (from Martin) that Abraham Lincoln wanted to deport all black people out of the US - there's no such thing as a perfect person. Martin shows Wyatt the video of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, and there's a moment when Wyatt is tempted... but then he remembers that he can't come out. Because no one will believe a gay kid saying Lincoln was gay.

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-Three!

* *

* *

* *

Chapter 23
Saturday January 24

            Wyatt was still awake at 11 p.m. when there was a light knock on his door.
            A soft voice, “You asleep?”
            Wyatt’s palms got sweaty.
            “One second!” Wyatt whispered and changed fast to jeans. He didn’t want to seem like he’d been about to go to bed. He didn’t even want to think about being with Martin anywhere near a bed.
            Wyatt opened his door just enough to peer out. Martin was wearing jeans, his Super ‘G’ shirt, and carried a lime-green down jacket and work gloves.
            “Hey.” Martin grinned at him, and Wyatt felt temporarily blinded.
            “Going somewhere?” Wyatt asked.
            “Yeah. So are you.”
 Wyatt pointed at Martin’s shirt. “What’s the ‘G’ stand for? Is your middle name ‘Gabriel’ or something?”
            “The ‘G’ is for Gay. Sort of… Super-Hero Gay.” Martin shrugged. “I like it.”
            Wyatt pulled the door all the way open. Martin sure looked the part. By Martin’s feet, Wyatt noticed the plastic bin of painting supplies his dad had used to de-graffiti their B&B sign. “What’s with the paint?”
“Von Lawson gets more than seven-and-a-half million viewers for each show. We’re getting outgunned, with just the blog.” Martin glanced at the paints, and then up at Wyatt with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “I figure it’s time for another front in this war.”

* *

            An hour later they were standing under the street lamp at the corner of Garfield and Route 37, with its banner eight feet up,

Celebrate February 14!
Abe and Mary: A Great Love
Parade 9 a.m. Union Square

            Once Martin had explained the plan, it turned out they didn’t need the paint after all. Instead, Wyatt had used the entire stack of do-it-yourself bumper stickers from their store. Usually they printed a Lincoln quote with his picture, and sold about two a week, but for this they only needed one word, printed big.
            Martin shimmied up the pole, and, holding on with his legs and one arm, reached down. “Ready,” he said.
            It was hard to peel the backing off the bumper stickers with his weeding gloves on, but Martin had insisted: No fingerprints. Wyatt finally got two of them, handed them up, and Martin slapped them onto both sides of the banner. He climbed down and they inspected their work,

Celebrate February 14!
Abe and JOSHUA: A Great Love
Parade 9 a.m. Union Square

            “Awesome.” Martin said, and Wyatt couldn’t have agreed more.
            Hiding the few times a car passed them, they used all forty-six of their bumper stickers on Route 37 and in front of the library on Union Square. While that only ‘fixed’ about a quarter of the ‘Abe and Mary’ banners, it would have to be enough.
            There was hardly any traffic now, and Wyatt and Martin walked through town, tearing off every last yellow and black John Wilkes Booth Appreciation Society flyer and stuffing them in the plastic yard-trash bag Wyatt had brought along. Eighteen blocks in and out, around Union Square. When they finished, the only line of more flyers went East on Route 37. Martin used a flashlight to help them not fall on their faces as they crossed the covered bridge and made the turn onto Polk Street, following the trail and ripping them down as they went.
            The flyers marked every light and utility pole down to the high school. Their bag was stuffed, and it was supposed to hold 13 gallons! 13 gallons of hate. It seemed to Wyatt that it weighed a lot more than that. 
Opposite the School Rock, Martin ripped down the final flyer and stuffed it in the bag. A flashlight check didn’t show any more within view. Wyatt knotted the top, slung the sack over his shoulder and cut across the lawn to the dumpster by the gym.
            Wyatt huffed the words out, “It’s like we’re Santa Claus – only instead of giving presents – ” He paused as, together, they heaved it off his back and into the metal container. “Our gift is taking away the ugly.”
“That’s pretty brilliant.” Martin said.  
The compliment made Wyatt feel suddenly shy.
            They headed back to the street, and Wyatt noticed one of the lights on the corner of the gym lit up the words ‘Paddle, Rattle, Skadaddle’ on the School Rock. Stupid. He walked towards it, staring. And he got this crazy idea. Crazy-awesome. “We’re going to need the paint after all.”
            The light in Martin’s eyes danced. “You thinking what I’m thinking?”
            And then Wyatt wasn’t thinking about the rock, or how they needed to go back home to get paint. He just wanted to touch his lips to Martin’s.
            Let him know what it meant, doing this together.
            How he felt.
            Was Martin leaning in?
            Wyatt thought so. He knew he wasn’t breathing. Neither was Martin.
            Martin had gently closed his eyes, and he was so beautiful. Did he look like that when he was asleep?
            Wyatt couldn’t believe this was going to happen. He leaned in, too.
            Headlights raked across the front of the school as a car turned into the main driveway. Wyatt pulled Martin down behind the School Rock a split second before they were caught. Wyatt’s breath came fast and he tried to pant silently. He waited for the lights to pass, then peeked over the top of the boulder. A police car. No – a Parking Enforcement car!
            Mackenzie’s dad, stifling a yawn as he scanned both sides of the driveway. Like he was a patrol officer, or something.
            Wyatt felt like he’d just outrun a speeding train. That was close.
Too close.

* *

            Sneaking back into the B&B for the paint, Wyatt expected everyone to be asleep – it was nearly two a.m. But when he and Martin tiptoed to the cleaning supply closet opposite Wyatt’s parents’ room, he could hear they were still up. Talking.
            “Gosh, you’re tense.” His mom’s voice. “You need to go bowling again.”
            “We can’t afford it.” His dad’s.
“You should go anyway.”
“One tour, Liz. That’s it. And only eight room-night reservations left, unless more cancel tomorrow.”
            “I was on the phone all day – no one wants any part of the parade.” His mom said. “I can’t believe Kelly already told the bank I was going to be fired! And how dare they send us a letter warning us they’re going to foreclose when we haven’t even missed the payment yet!”
            “I did promise Benny we wouldn’t miss another, and they won’t let us do a third mortgage. We don’t have the equity. But it’s just a warning. We have ‘till February sixteenth.”
            “Did you find anything we can sell to help make it?” His mom asked.
            “Not much – most of the good stuff’s on display, and if we sell any of that, then what’s the point? We’ll be just like the Morris Lodge Express, except they have that pool!” He sighed. “I did pull some of the older books that were tucked here and there. I’ll have Wyatt check auction prices. Maybe there’s a first edition that will surprise us…” He didn’t sound convinced. “We could sell the pickup, but that’s no solution. How are you going to get around? And what am I going to do, bicycle to Costco?”
            “It’s hard enough with just one car,” his mom agreed. “Maybe we should sell this place. Move, and start over somewhere else…”
            They were silent a long moment. Then Wyatt’s dad said, “I don’t know how to fix this.”
            “How could you?” His mom’s voice was tender. “You didn’t break it.”
            Wyatt swallowed hard. Was he making things worse? But being silent didn’t solve anything. It just made you a punching bag. It made you Mr. Clifton.
            Martin leaned into Wyatt, his breath tickling Wyatt’s ear. “That Churchill line? It’s also a country song,” He sung the line real low, “Don't stop goin' when you're goin' through Hell!”
            Wyatt knew Martin was right. The blog was north of three-million eight-hundred thousand hits. And earlier, Martin had showed Wyatt all these cloned blogs. People from all over the country, and the world, who had copied everything on Wyatt’s blog and put it up on websites they controlled. At first Wyatt was kind of pissed off. I mean, plagiarize much? But then Martin explained it was kind of like insurance – this way, if Wyatt’s blog went offline again, the truth would still be out there.
            …Which meant that even if they took down their own blog, there was no way to stop this anymore.
            All Wyatt could do was keep on going. And if he was straight, then no one could say he was just saying Lincoln was gay because he was gay. That meant no more thinking about Martin like that. No more almost-kisses.
            Wyatt handed the brushes to Martin and silently grabbed the quick-dry white primer and the can of green left over from re-doing the fence in back.
            They had a rock to paint.

* *


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

Ready for Chapter Twenty-Four? It will be posted on February 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!