A Moderate Plea to Undecideds

It’s political season, and I was hoping to get through without a single political blog post, but that isn’t going to happen. I’ve decided to write this because I think this is perhaps the single most important election of my lifetime, and I want to take the time to speak to my undecided friends, fans, and readers about why I think you should cast a vote for Hillary Clinton.

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First off: I fully understand how a majority of you feel: dismayed by the choices, confused by the media coverage, unsure of what to believe. Also, I completely sympathize and agree that it’s time for a change. If Hillary wins, by the time her term ends in 2020, we will have had a president from one of two families for 24 out of the last 32 years. And given the fact that a lot of people have legitimate gripes about how our country has been run–from the economy to foreign policy–I totally get not wanting to vote for Clinton.

I also understand concerns about her honesty. The constant stream of “Crooked Hillary” comments, the endless coverage of her email debacle, and the questionable judgment she’s shown regarding conflicts of interest relating to the Clinton Foundation make me question how much I really trust her, or her husband, for that matter.

I get all that. Truly.

But.

It is the other side that has me motivated to vote for her.

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The Radical Moderate

There was a time when I considered myself a radical. It was late high school, early college. An incurable disease was destroying a generation of gay men, and ACT UP had just formed in New York. I was young, but I felt the anger, too, right in the pit of my stomach.

act-up

They don’t care about you! They don’t give a crap if you live, or die! These were my typical thoughts as I walked to the subway each morning to go to school, back in 1988.

I wanted to scream from the rooftops, and sometimes I did. There were times when I would go into the theater in high school, stand up on the stage, and scream my lungs out, I was so angry at what I saw going on around me.

The injustice simmered in me. And I felt it was up to me to change the world.

So I attended ACT UP meetings, and a few times I went out with groups of older men and women and glued signs to walls decrying the government’s indifference to the epidemic, and I was openly gay when it wasn’t cool to be out, and I wore a Silence Equals Death pin to school some days, and I wrote a play with a couple friends called It Seems So Innocent, in which we decried racism and sexism and homophobia.

And today, I find myself living in Chandler, Arizona, which is mostly Republican. Last week I went to Red State Kansas, no gay mecca, and spoke about my journey and my books, which feature LGBTQ teen characters. This week I head to Wisconsin and do the same thing.

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Let Me Help You Write a Novel!

Do you have a Young Adult novel that you’re dying to write?

I can help you with that!

So can instructors Tom Leveen, Barry Lyga, Amy Nichols, and Beth Staples.

So can mentors Elana K. Arnold, Jim Blasingame, Martha Brockenbrough, Sharon Flake, Karen Harrington, Varian Johnson, Tom Leveen, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Barry Lyga, Lish McBride, Amy Nichols, and Jean Rabe.

I’m talking about Your Novel Year, the online certificate program for those wishing to write a young adult novel at The Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. In case you were wondering how you can work one-on-one with me (or any of these other authors), this is your answer. I coordinate the program, created much of the curriculum, and teach several of the classes.

Check out this great article in the Phoenix New Times about us. It talks about us as one of the best-kept-secret resources out there for aspiring writers, and while I know I’m biased, I must agree! How else can you work with award-winning, best-selling authors? Your options, if you wish to learn more about craft and get hands-on help, seem to be a handful of MFA programs that focus on YA lit, and us. Nothing against those programs, which sound awesome. This is just an alternative if you want to study for a year instead of two or three.

If you’re interested, get moving! Applications are due in less than a month (Oct. 31). We are a competitive program, taking the students we feel:

  1. Show the most promise based on a writing sample of 20-25 pages.
  2. Seem the most teachable based on a personal essay.

Feel free to email me at bkonigsberg@gmail.com if you want to talk more about the program or if you have any questions. If you’re serious about learning, I promise you this will be a life-changing experience!

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Me and the FacePlace – A divorce?

 

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It was two years ago at my 25th high school reunion. A woman who was never exactly a friend came up to me and said, “Oh my God, Billy, I see you on Facebook and you’re doing so well in life! That’s amazing, because, back then, well… ” She then paused and rolled her eyes in a way that connoted, ‘you were a big-time mess.’

I got a big laugh out of that, because it seemed like the kind of thing you don’t say to someone at a 25th high school reunion, true or not. And truthfully I don’t live outside my own experience, so I don’t know if it was warranted. I was, let’s say, “dramatic” in high school. Lots of crises, rampant highs and lows, and always this annoying need to share my feelings with the world. Call it a tragic flaw, or maybe call it the reason I am a successful writer. I don’t know.

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Serenity NOW!

I started to watch “Happyish” on Netflix. The script was very good. But what became evident to me by episode 3 was the worldview… so ugly. The world sucks. People are awful.

HAPPYISHI had to stop watching, because I don’t want to feel hopeless, and right now things in our society feel a little, well, wretched.

It’s not hard for me to go there. I have negativity in me, too, even though I try to accentuate the positive. But this new world order of 24 hour news coverage and social media seems to push us toward snark and cynicism, not to mention simple, garden-variety hatred. Shit. Go to Twitter. People are often quite dreadful. Social media has given awful people a gassed-up vehicle for their terribleness.

And it feels like Hollywood has jumped on board. We all can name 5 popular shows about awful people. It’s really hard right now to find stuff to watch that isn’t gleeful about its sour worldview. Difficult People is very funny, and you can kind of see its tongue firmly in cheek, but man. Try watching an episode or two of that and then see how optimistic you feel about our society.

I’m writing this after a week of more terrorist attacks worldwide than I can count. A couple weeks after a devastating show of police brutality against two black males, followed by a heartbreaking massacre of police officers in Dallas. And now Baton Rouge.

Believe me, I’m lost in it. I can tell that many of us feel lost in it, unable to breathe.

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Text of My Stonewall Book Award Speech

People have been asking for the text of my Stonewall Book Award speech at the American Library Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, earlier today.

Here you go!

Thank you so much. Thank you to those on the Stonewall Award committee. I was blown away to learn about this honor, especially in a year with so many stellar young adult books that depict diverse aspects of the LGBTQ experience. I am honored simply to have my work considered on the same level as some of these incredible novels.

Thank you to my family at Scholastic, whom I happen to love, dearly. Cheryl Klein, my editor, will forever be the person in my life who saved me. Seriously. Before my second novel, Openly Straight, found a home, I thought it was quite possible I’d never be published again. This possibility terrified me, because I had so much more to say. Cheryl gave me a chance, despite not-so-stellar sales numbers for my first book, Out of the Pocket. And I will forever be grateful for that opportunity, and also for her brilliance as an editor.

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The Porcupine of Truth e-book on sale!

So let’s say… you’re one of those people who LOVED Openly Straight, but for some odd reason you haven’t picked up The Porcupine of Truth yet.Stonewall award winnerFirst off, why? What the heck? What could you possess you to do such a silly thing?

But most importantly, today you can remedy that.

In honor of Gay Pride Month, The Porcupine of Truth is on sale for $2.99. Go buy it!

 

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