“What happens after Openly Straight?”

I’m so sorry that I’ve been so bad about blogging recently. I’ve been so busy with writing and editing and a few other projects, and I haven’t made the time. Bad author! Bad author!

One amazing thing I’ve noticed has been the incredible uptick in emails about Openly Straight. Even more than when it first came out, I seem to be getting lots of emails with questions about the book. The most common question is, “will you be writing a sequel?”

The answer to that: stay tuned. There may be some news about that in the near future!

The second most common question is, “what happens to Ben?”

A couple days ago, I got an email like that. But this one made me ponder things in a different way. I’ll explain. Let me start by sharing the email. Continue reading

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A Judy Blume Fanboy

Yeah, this was pretty surreal…

I got to take a picture with Judy Blume at the SCBWI conference after my speech! Yeah, it’s blurry, but I’ll take it! What a truly lovely person, and what an amazing gift she has given the world with her books!

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Sid Fleischman Award Acceptance Speech – with VIDEO!

bill sid fleischman speechYesterday was a wonderful day. I got to accept the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor for my novel Openly Straight at the annual SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Convention at the Century Hyatt in Los Angeles.

I was soooooo nervous. I don’t generally get nervous when I speak, but this was different. There were, like, 1000+ people there. A lot of amazing and talented people were there who don’t know me, so I was anxious to make a good first impression. And, of course, Judy Blume was there, sitting right up front.

Ay yi yi!

Judy Blume!

When I was a kid, I used to take my sister’s Judy Blume novels and read them. Everything I learned about sex, love and romance I learned from her novel “Forever.” That was adorable back when I was 14, but now that I’m 43, I should probably update my knowledge base.

That’s exactly the kind of joke I had to cut due to time constraints yesterday.

Anyhow, it was a memorable and beautiful day for me. I really love book people, and I love my job. Not only do I get to spend my life writing books, but I get to hobnob with the nicest people I’ve ever met. You can hear, on this video, the kindness of people with their charity laughs.

Here’s the video.

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2nd Edition of Out of the Pocket: Now an e-book!

ootppaperbackcover1

The second edition of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award-winning Out of the Pocket is now available in e-book format!

The new version, released earlier this year in paperback, has a foreward by Chris Kluwe and an afterword by Jim Buzinski of Outsports, plus two new chapters by me. The e-book is priced to sell at $6.99.

Go! Get one! Now!

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Walden Award Finalist

Openly Straight cover
Openly Straight has been named one of five finalists for the 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award!

What an honor!

There are a bunch of things about this that make me particularly happy. One is the caliber of authors on this list. The other books are:
walden
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
Jumped In – Patrick Flores-Scott
The Milk of Birds – Sylvia Whitman
Winger – Andrew Smith

Rainbow and Andrew are friends, and their books are all over the place. And for good reason; they are two of the finest authors out there today — in any genre. I was not familiar with Patrick and Sylvia’s work, but I got a chance to sleuth a little bit yesterday, and both books are immediately to the front of my To Be Read pile. (And yeah, that’s a big pile).

The other thing that makes me particularly happy about this is the criteria for the award. The award committee chose books that demonstrate “a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.”

The first is meaningful to me because becoming a more positive, upbeat person has been one of my main goals the last three or four years. And the final two are meaningful because that’s the cross-section where I want to live as an author. I want to write books that have literary merit, but also a story. I want them to exercise the mind, and make people think, and I want them to make people laugh.

And the last thing that makes me particularly happy about this is that the award committee has done such a nice job in the past with this award. I saw last year’s panel at ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents), and it included three friends who are authors I particularly admire: Benjamin Alire Saenz, A.S. King, and Eliot Schrefer. Not there was the winner, John Green, for The Fault in Our Stars. Whom I also admire greatly.

So yeah, I’m thrilled. Thank you to the committee for considering Openly Straight!

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Ben

I get soooo many emails asking me: what happens to Ben after Openly Straight? Do he and Rafe get back together? Will he ever come out? Is he going to be okay?

It’s no secret to those of you who visit this website regularly, or who read the comments on the “Ask Bill” page, that there’s been a significant amount of clamoring for a sequel to Openly Straight. Some of that clamoring has come with threats of bodily harm if I do not write one. Some has been kinder than that.

I want to say, up front, that it was never my intention to write more about these characters. I felt that the story was about Rafe’s personal growth, and that at the end, he’s grown in some ways. Game over. What I didn’t understand, though, is that the central romance of the novel is, for many readers, the main attraction. For those readers, the story feels … unfinished. I understand that now.

So…

There is nothing official to report, But–

I am toying around with the idea of a sequel to Openly Straight.

It would be from Ben’s perspective, and it would cover the second semester of the year at Natick.

That’s all for now. I just thought some of you would be happy to know that.

Later, people!

xo

Bill

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Sid Fleischman Humor Award – The Interview

A lot of people may not know this, but I happen to be quite famous.

OK, I stole that line from Sam Malone in Cheers, or more correctly I stole that line from my husband, who still remembers that line from Cheers, and for whom the quote is highly contemporary as most of his references come from the Bob Newhart Show and Monty Python (Blessed are the cheesemakers?).

He keeps me entertained in a very 1975 sort of way. (Kids: 1975 was a time in history when your parents were, like, three years old. They did not yet have jobs or receding hairlines and they were blissfully unaware of rap as it hadn’t been invented yet.)

Anyway, I say this because so rarely do people come up to me on the street and say things like, “Hey, Bill, I read that great interview of you in the SCBWI blog. Congrats on your Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Are you that awesome in real life?”

To which I would say, “Why no, strange person who recognizes me from an interview on a blog, Not even close. Despite that, would you like to get a cup of coffee and bask in my famousness?”

To which they would say, “Gee, I’d like to, or rather, I’d like to like to, but I really wouldn’t. Take care.”

So I am not that famous, and not that many people are clamoring to coffee-ize with me, but in the name of getting more people to want to, I post this fun interview from SCBWI’s Lee Wind about Openly Straight winning the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Read it, enjoy it, and tell your friends, in the off-chance one of them someday would like to buy me coffee and talk about it.

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