A shout out to my young fans… I’ve been thinking about you this morning!
Thinking about the incredible strength and courage I see on a daily basis, in the emails you send me. You’re choosing to be authentically you in a world that still considers being LGBTQ a “left-handed path.” I’m so proud of you for standing up and telling people who you are.
As Toby explains so nicely in Honestly Ben, the world is way more comfortable when we stay on certain expected paths. When we veer from expectation, there are people who get very uncomfortable.
But here’s the thing: that’s not about you. That’s about them. They are projecting their own stuff onto you. There will always be people out there who hate the parts of them that are unusual or different. And those people will always be the first to hate on you for the ways you stand out.
One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is this: the things that make us different? That’s our gold. Cherish your gold. It’s yours. Love it like it’s the most valuable possession you’ve got!
I’m working on another book for y’all right now. I promise to work hard so that it’s the best it can be. Because I want it to mean a lot to you.
That’s all for now!
I’ve recently joined a group called The Mankind Project.
What I first heard about this group, the thing that intrigued me was the idea that in our society, there are no rites of passage for men, outside of gangs and fraternities. This organization offers such a rite of passage.
The basic purpose of this organization is to empower men to missions of service, supporting men to make a difference in the lives of others – men, women, and children around the world. There is a sister group called The Woman Within. I strongly suggest checking out both organizations. Both are fully inclusive of members regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability and religion. All are welcome, so long as they are willing to look at themselves clearly and work on themselves. In my experience so far, it is a group of warm, powerful men who are committed to being the best they can be, committed to understanding who they are, committed to owning their own stuff, and dealing with it in a healthy manner. Continue reading
I haven’t been posting to this blog recently. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been … publishing. Lotsa drafts abandoned, unpublished.
The reason: I have been feeling as though the LGBTQ movement is passing me by. That what I perceive as a move to the left by those who are most vocal and adamant has left me feeling strangely without a voice. Or, more precisely, afraid if I voice what is true for me, I will get in trouble.
Let me say up front that my mission in life is to help young people learn to love themselves. Especially LGBTQ young people. That’s what matters to me. That’s what has me writing books aimed specifically at that population.
Let me say secondarily that I am willing to admit that maybe I no longer have the right voice for this task. That maybe I need to think about writing something different, because it may be that the tenets of the LGBTQ movement have fundamentally changed. Or maybe I’ve changed. I don’t know.
I’ve always been all about authenticity. And I’m a writer. As such, I’ve decided to write what is true for me, and let the pieces fall where they may.
Here are some things I believe that are politically incorrect: Continue reading
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: For a little while there, I think I lost my passion to write and to change the world.
If I had to choose a timeframe, I’d say from about November of last year until quite recently. Hmm. I wonder what happened in November that might have impacted me to lose my passion for changing the world? Hmm.
Of course no external factor is to blame for my actions, in reality. I guess it was part of a process I had to go through, and yes, I got depressed for a while, and then, once out of the depression, I floundered and felt stuck, unable to find the joy and passion I’ve had for the past decade-plus to tell, with love, stories of young people coming to understand who they are. Stories of authenticity. That’s been my jam, and it will continue to be my jam.
At some point in the future, I may talk about the major impetus for re-booting my passion; for now, I just want to get writing. But I wanted to put this out there to say to my fans that I will not let you down. I will keep writing stories and worlds which will allow you to see yourselves and allow you to see the hearts of others. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s a powerful thing for me, too. To have that connection with you, where the things I share from my heart go into yours? What an amazing gift. I never want to take that for granted again.
I get emails. I am mostly getting emails from readers of HONESTLY BEN right now, but this one comes from the UK, from someone who is currently reading OPENLY STRAIGHT still.
Nonetheless, it brings up an interesting issue: bisexual erasure. I’ll let the writer speak for themselves, and after, I’ll make a few remarks.
So I’m still reading ‘Openly Straight’ (on page 254), and decided to google about Ben and bisexuality and found this blog post.
(I realise this is pretty late, seeing as the other comments are from 2014, but I hope this is read by somebody and isn’t just me talking to the void–although that’s fun too, sometimes.)
With how far I’ve read so far, I think Ben is a great example of someone who’s discovering/exploring their bisexuality. The book talks, in passing, about heteronormativity which is something bi people go through too but, I suppose, in a slightly different way. There’s a lot of different circumstances, and bi people too get that assumed straight unless out (and then sometimes still assumed straight because what, bisexuality isn’t a thing?! You’re just confused/experimenting or really just gay and not all the way there yet.)
Want to read Openly Straight before Honestly Ben comes out tomorrow? Download it for just $0.99 today only at eBookDaily!
Honestly Ben comes out in one week! I can’t wait, mostly because after that date, no one can ever again write me an email or tweet me that they hate me for how I ended Openly Straight. Now they can just go and read Honestly Ben and find out what happens next!
For my fans and for those who are just curious, I have compiled this list of 4 surprising things about Honestly Ben. No spoilers, I promise.
But first: Did you know there’s a bridge book, available for free, e-book only, between OPENLY STRAIGHT and HONESTLY BEN? It’s called OPENLY, HONESTLY, and you should, like, totally download it and read it now for your Rafe/Ben fix. It’s basically just a book that chronicles the Christmas/Chanukah break for both characters.
And second: Arizona fans: come to the book launch! Next Tuesday, March 28th, at 7pm, at Changing Hands in Tempe!
Now on with our countdown:
- While writing OPENLY STRAIGHT, I literally went to Google Maps and chose a town where Ben was from in New Hampshire. Alton. I wanted a small town where he could have grown up on a farm, and Alton fit the bill. So when I went to write HONESTLY BEN, I had to travel to Alton so I could have some idea of what this place was where Ben grew up. It was amazing to do the research about where my character was from after the fact. Like I was discovering things about him that I didn’t actually know. I spent a day on a farm there, and I used that farm as the basis for Ben’s home. I also spent time with a town historian, which was really interesting.
- Writing from Ben’s point of view was the hardest challenge I’ve had yet in my fiction career. If you’ve read my books, you know that my characters tend to be, well, emotional. To write a character who doesn’t show his emotions was a real stretch for me, so much so that my editor said, after my first draft, “Bill, is that what you think ‘stoic’ means?”
- Two characters do NOT make a re-appearance from the first book. Bryce and Robinson. I wanted Bryce to come back, but he just … he wasn’t supposed to come back to Natick, I guess, because it didn’t work to bring him back. When I had him show up at the end, it felt like a bad movie sequel, where a character returns so everyone can say, “Oh, look, remember him?” So I nixed it. Robinson just wasn’t as much on Ben’s radar, so other characters show up in his place.
- Toby has a secret. Yes, in this book, Toby has something on his mind and needs someone to talk to, and Albie isn’t his first choice. He searches out Ben. And can you blame him? Ben’s such a solid guy. I won’t tell you what the secret is, but I will say this: it’s a good setup for a third novel in the series!
Stay tuned for more before Ben hits the stores next Tuesday!