Thursday, December 17, 2009

PFLAG National Supports Us on Blog and Booklist

We received great news this month from PFLAG National. They are going to write a blog on our SKYPE Packages for families, schools, book groups, churches, and businesses. In addition, they are including our book on their recommended book list for schools. We are thrilled that they are helping us to get the word out about our desire to help wherever we can no matter where they live or who they are. A BIG thank you to PFLAG National!

Plainview Supplies Ready or Not at Jon Hassler Theater

Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview MN is the new home to several copies of our book. We were asked to supply our book for interested readers of the region as well as theater goers. We are proud to have our story brought to Hjordy’s hometown. Of course Hjordy’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law have had a megaphone telling everyone they know about our book. We appreciate their vocal advocacy for GLBTs. We also appreciate the support of the Jon Hassler Theater. Check them out at

Sioux Falls SD is on the Move!

We met a Sioux Falls PFLAG Board Member at the PRIDE Festival in Minneapolis in June of this year. We connected with her again in November with the positive result of having a gathering in Sioux Falls. There were over 50 people in attendance and we talked with them for about 3 hours. Two of the members hosted an overnight stay for us in their home. We had the additional treat of a ride through their beautifully decorated Falls Park followed by a great Italian dinner with four movers and shakers. At dinner we discovered we were really the lightweights in the group. These ladies wear many hats in their community and all of them are trying to make a difference for GLBTs in their city as well as the state of South Dakota. As of yet, SD doesn’t have a Safe School Policy and yes, they can be fired for being GLBT. Our hats off to these good people of Sioux Falls – they are making a difference.

Fair Wisconsin Sponsors a Ready or Not Talk!

We are always happy to present in the town our sons were raised – Eau Claire, WI. Jane Schley, who works with Fair Wisconsin, arranged for us to speak to interested community members at the LGBT Community Center on December 1st. It was an intimate discussion which we enjoyed immensely. Even though we have been a member of the community for many years, most of the faces were new to us. We always seem to learn from others every place we go. This was no exception. We also met some wonderful and supportive people. We are proud to be a partner in the work of the LGBT Community Center and Fair Wisconsin.

Visit to the University of River Falls

Professor Todd Savage invited us to discuss our book with his students who are aspiring school social workers. They had all read our book so they had a lot of information coming into the discussion. One of the best questions asked of us was what they can do to make things better in a school setting. Of course we had a list of things that can and should be done but three factors identified by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) were found to have the greatest impact: Gay/Straight Alliance, Supportive Staff, and Safe School Policy. All three of these factors show positive results in attendance, attitude, less harassment/bullying, higher grade point, higher aspirations, and a greater sense of belonging. What a difference it would make if we could be successful in those three areas in all of our schools!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joel Osteen says our sons are not God's best

I simply cannot let this one pass without comment. Yesterday (Nov 4) Joel Osteen was on The View. Whoopi asked how he feels about folks who are gay. His response was that he believes what scripture says....that (meaning homosexuals) isn't God's best. WHAT? He is telling parents of two gay sons that their sons can never be God's best? Shock and disappointment were but a few of our feelings. He is in the same camp as Rev. Robert Schuller who said on Larry King that he believes in "excellence" in all they do. He went on to describe "excellence" as men and women married with children. We have now been told by two infamous religious leaders that our sons can never be excellent or God's best. Ouch. We wrote a very long letter to Rev Schuller regarding his statements on Larry King. Today we wrote to Joel Osteen about his comments. We encourage anyone else who is motivated to do the same. I can understand why GLBTs turn their back on organized religion when they hear things such as this. Paul and I subscribe to Desmond Tutu's statement - "God knew you before you were born; no one is a mistake." Nothing will alter our thinking on this because the God we know and love and who loves us unconditionally would never turn his back on his own creation. It doesn't make sense.

What do you think? Respond to our blog about your feelings on this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ready or Not at Northwest Education Association Conference

It was a great two days at the Northwest Education Association (NWEA) conference in Eau Claire. We presented three times and had a booth in the vendor area. We hope our presence had an impact with the school personnel represented at the conference. We had a great time and had meaningful discussions with many educators in the area.

Now, here are the questions for you. Has your workplace or school provided training for you on GLBT issues in the workplace? If not, should they? Should it be mandatory for all? Are you in compliance with the Safe School Law? If you are a business, have you ever discriminated on the basis of gender orientation or identity? Let's have a discussion - join our blog!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A visit with University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Staff and Students

David Gardner, LGBTQ Program Coordinator from the Women's and Gender Equity Center at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, did a fantastic job advertising our presentation at the Davies Center on the evening of October 7. We exceeded 100 people in the audience who asked great questions at the end of our presentation. One group in attendance was a material selection class. We shared with them the importance of having GLBT material in schools and public libraries and our fear that librarians/media specialists may use self-censorship because of the controversial nature of GLBT books in general. Remember our blog on the West Bend Public Library controversy? You never know when the challenge will hit your community. Although our book is a recommended title for middle and high school, some media specialists may feel it is just easier not to order it for their library even though our book has only received positive reviews. Or perhaps it won't be used in an educator book club even though we were educators for over 30 years and offer suggestions for schools on how to protect GLBT students and staff.

What is your opinion? Do you think schools will include our title in their library bookshelves or will it just be easier not to order it? Do you have a reasonable amount of books on GLBTs in your media center? Will they use our book or another GLBT title as a staff development tool for educators or continue to ignore the issues of harassment and bullying of our GLBT sons and daughters? We want to hear from you on this.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wagners visit River Falls United Methodist Church

Sunday was a wonderful day in River Falls, WI. We (Paul, Brad & Hjordy) started our day at the United Methodist Church where our former pastor, Janet Ellinger, inspired us with her prayers and words of wisdom. This was followed by a luncheon and our story in the context of a welcoming church. We estimate the crowd at around 50 or more. Paul and I hope we were able to inspire new thinking. We learn from our audience every time we give a presentation. Yesterday was no exception. One of the ideas shared was when and how to be a vocal advocate. For example, is it the right place to say something to someone when you overhear an inappropriate remark about a minority in a restaurant setting? We had some great suggestions on that topic alone. What do you think?

Church members at River Falls showed courage in opening their hearts and minds to the topic of GLBTs in the church setting. We hold a special place in our hearts for Rev. Ellinger and now we know how special her congregation members are.

Media Porfessional Review - Wagner's book is a model

Review for Wagner, Paul and Hjordy (2009). Ready or not...they're gay:
stories from a Midwestern family.

Hjordy and Paul Wagner have given us a book for those times when there really is only one chance to listen closely and then to do the right thing.

Their sons, Brad and Andrew, are both gay. In a very personal, intimate collection of stories, the Wagners describe their own memories and reactions to each son's "coming out," relate how they shared the news with their family and friends, and inspire us with accounts of each son's success and happiness in life. Brad and Andrew each share their own stories of being gay and coming out as well. Though the process was certainly difficult for all of the Wagners, it's easy to see how Brad and Andrew could become the healthy, happy, well-adapted men they are now. Hjordy and Paul are simply among the world's best parents, who have given their children the confidence and security that comes from unconditional love.

The Wagners' book is a model in many ways. It's a model for kids who think they may be gay but need more information. It's a model for kids and families who are going through the coming out process. It's a model that prepares us for the times when we have only once chance to do the right thing. But more than anything else, it's a model for families who, no matter what the life-changing news may be, need to find a way to just love one another and act like the generous-hearted, non-judgmental, supportive people we all hope to be.

Reviewed by Gyneth Slygh, Ph.D.,University Program Coordinator of Library Media Education

Educator Review - Book Capable of Changing Attitudes

Ready or Not…They’re Gay is one couple’s journey of acceptance upon learning not one, but both of their sons are gay. Paul and Hjordy Wagner share their story through succinct recollections and reflections; provide an eclectic collection of tips, checklists, and advice for parents, friends, and educators; and invite others to share their stories. Writing with authentic voices and clear prose, the Wagners demonstrate deep love and respect for their sons and reach out to others struggling to understand gay family members. The result is an easy-to-read and insightful book that demystifies gayness. Ready or Not…They’re Gay is a powerful book capable of changing attitudes and a mustread for everyone seeking to better understand what it means to be gay. Appropriate for readers age 13 and older, Ready or Not…They’re Gay would be a valuable addition to most library collections.

Arlene Radtke is a retired Eau Claire Area School District reading specialist and a regular reviewer for SIGNAL Journal, Journal of the International Reading Association’s Special Interest Group on Literature for the Adolescent Reader

Shine-A-Light Nomination

Business Name: PH Wagner LLC

Business City: Eau Clarie

Business State: WI

Business Website:

Type of Business: Other

On my commute to work this morning, I noticed a banner which read, “Be careful who you hate…it could be someone you love.” The phrase is often used by the PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) organization. The phrase runs deep, challenging its reader to engage in self-reflection. In an effort to help my own family members come to terms with my recent announcement of telling them I am gay, I set out looking for a book to share with them. That was no easy task! It had to be something lenient yet straightforward, educational yet not too preachy, and most importantly, it had to convey empathy. By happenstance, I stumbled upon the collaborative work of Hjordy and Paul Wagner expressed in their book entitled: Ready or Not; They’re Gay: Stories from a Midwestern Family. The book was completely mesmerizing and surpassed all my expectations. It is very well-written. The reader is instantly drawn into this family of four in which you learn that both of the Wagner’s sons, Brad and Andrew, are gay. The pages progress thoughtfully from the family background to the coming out of their sons, through the process of initial shock to complete acceptance with helpful hints and education interspersed throughout. An unexpected surprise for me was that I was able to identify with Brad and Andrew on so many levels which validated many of my own experiences as normal. As stated in the book’s Preface, Hjordy and Paul’s mission is to better equip parents, relatives, and friends of GLBT persons to cope when they find out someone they care about is gay – a mission of love they hope will improve the relationships and lives of families and friends. This mission is reflected in and shared by their boys, and goes far beyond the book itself. Education is paramount and is a natural extension of their careers in public education held before their respective retirements in the field. In addition to a busy schedule traveling to various cities and making appearances in different venues sharing their inspiring story, the Wagner’s have made a concerted effort to connect on a personal level. They utilize Skype for their virtual book tour and live presentations to facilitate meaningful dialogue wherever they are needed, whether it is in someone’s home, a church, a school or university, or business setting. Plans are underway for a follow-up book consisting of contributed stories from the GLBT community and their families about their coming-out experiences. Moreover, Paul and Hjordy are constantly looking for new and different ways to connect and share their story in an effort to be most effective and helpful to others. I am one of many who have been inspired by the selflessness, empathy, and genuine care and concern displayed by the entire Wagner family. So that many others may share in this inspiration, and that their mission may be expanded and enhanced, I respectfully nominate PH Wagner LLC for the SHINEALIGHT award. Meet the Wagner’s:

Nominated by: jjcrist

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Best Buy WoLF Invisible Diversity Presentation in Vegas

We were honored to be a part of Best Buy WoLF (Women in Leadership Forum) Conference in Las Vegas on August 11 and 12. There were 3,000 attendees at MGM Grand. It was an incredible experience watching that many people served by MGM staff at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are amazing!

Paul and I presented a portion of the presentation on Invisible Diversity with the Corporate Diversity Team. We had around 100 Best Buy employees attend our session. It was met with great enthusiasm and a lot of questions and comments following the formal presentations. We were honored to have a longer visit later in the day with a talented Best Buy employee who shared his personal journey with us. We felt privileged that he trusted us enough to share his journey. We wish him and all of our Best Buy friends the best in the future. We feel a special bond with Best Buy and hope to continue our relationship with their very committed Diversity Team.

Fireside Book Signing in West Bend WI

There was a lot of speculation about our visit to the Fireside Bookstore in West Bend, WI. We weren't nervous about it but we can't say it wasn't on our minds. We walked into the store to see a perfect setting for a large group who wanted to listen to authors. We set up the equipment and were ready to go. We were pleasantly surprised to see every seat filled with many standing. Everyone was attentive and asked important questions throughout our Q/A segment. Before the questions ran out, we had to stop so those interested in an autographed copy could be on their way. We were in the bookstore for about two hours. We joined Dennis and others for lunch at Panara. We found out later that our book signing had the largest turnout of any author visits in the store's 15 year history. We felt we made a positive impact on our West Bend friends and hope to visit this welcoming community again.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fox 6 News Wakeup in Milwaukee - Interview

Okay, okay....No link showed up. The link was directed to our blog but something didn't work. Here is the direct link so you can view it.

Interview Link for Fox 6 Wake-Up in Milwaukee

Here you go - hope you enjoy it:

In-Studio Interview with Kim Murphy - FOX 6 Wake-Up

We are in Milwaukee and the interview is over. It was quick - about 3 1/2 - 4 minutes with Kim Murphy. Prior to the interview we waited until called, were escorted to the studio, put on our mics, seated ourselves, and waited for Kim. She was a great person and very easy to converse with. She asked about our story and also about our visit to West Bend. The interview was so short we couldn't mess it up too much!! We felt comfortable with the questions and our responses. Next stop - West Bend Fireside Book Store on Saturday at 10:30. We look forward to it!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eau Claire Introduced to Ready or Not...They're Gay

At last - the fine folks of Eau Claire were introduced to our story, Ready or Not...They're Gay and our Ready or Not...Let's Talk Conversation cards. On July 15 Borders hosted around 40 people at their Eau Claire store for an author talk and book signing. An hour of Q & A passed quickly followed by a short introduction to our Let's Talk cards on GLBT topics. It was a great night with old and new friends from the Chippewa Valley. Below are the media links around the book signing event and our book.

Eau Claire WI Leader Telegram News Article:
WEAU TV 13 Interview with Judy Clark:
Volume I Magazine: article coming in August issue

Maverick Radio Interview – Interview complete (30 minutes) – waiting for the tape

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pride Rochester 2009

Yes, I know. We just did the post on Pride Twin Cities. I am a little behind on our postings! Rochester Pride was very different than Twin Cities Pride. Compare 200,000 people to 400 people. Rochester was more personal and relaxed. We had a chance to talk with participants for a longer period of time. We didn't need to choose where to eat because there was only one food vendor and I might add, their food was excellent! The entertainment was great. The mayor read a proclamation and meandered around the park. We didn't meet him but we were impressed that he made an intentional appearance at the event. The vendors were only there for 5 hours but it was quality time on a beautiful day in a shaded park downtown Rochester. If you are in that area next year, make an effort to attend. You'll enjoy it.

Pride Twin Cities 2009

What a weekend. This was our second Pride Festival. We attended last year to help at the Target booth with Brad. This year we were one of the vendors. We came prepared with our table, special Ready or Not tablecloth and T-Shirts, crayon and Border balloon give-aways, our book and Let's Talk Conversation Cards. Oh no, rain and wind on the first day. Thank goodness we had a tent cover. Okay, everything is set and we were ready. Where are the people? We were tucked behind the Target booth in the children and family section and it seemed that a lot of people missed seeing us. We were told by Pride organizers we could move to a better location. We took them up on that offer the next day and saw far more traffic. Was it a successful weekend for us? Not by the cost of the event and our sales but meeting the good people at the Festival was well worth it. It is at events like this that we know our mission has impact on others and the message in our book is needed in communities everywhere. Marketing remains our biggest challenge. You can't help others if they don't know about your book.

The Friday before Pride we were privileged to present our book and Let's Talk cards to some team members at Best Buy Corporation in Bloomington. We enjoyed seeing the Best Buy campus which was welcoming and friendly. A big thanks to Best Buy for the invitation and for asking us to present in Las Vegas at WoLF in August.

All for now - hope you enjoy our updates.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ready or Not Book Launch Party Recap

Ready or Not...

The mission of the Ready or Not...They're Gay Book Launch Party was to provide:

- A memorable experience
- A night of inspiration
- A call for action

The Experience

May 21, 2009 will be remembered as a night filled with the loving support of our family, friends and community.

We want to thank the over 420 attendees, event planners, entertainers, speakers and sponsors for their overall contribution to the evening. A special thank you to The Firm, Evolution, Borders, PFLAG, Beyond Chocolates and the W Hotel Minneapolis for their partnership; this would not have been the evening it was without their support. Additionally, Victoria, Darrin, Belladiva, Soul 2 Soul Dance Conversion, Esera Tualo and Candi Stratton took it out of the park with their performances. Thank you all!

How did this all happen? An amazing event team of Mark Schultz, Brooke Jordan, Marie McKay and Rich Gonzales spent four months of their spare time in an effort to make this a night to remember. In addition, 22 volunteers ensured all of the details were taken care of so all went well for our guests. Thank you!

Are you ready to go back to this beautiful night? Click Here for a video recap of the evening. We would love to hear your comments and feedback. Kudos to Life Image LLC for their talent in recreating the amazing evening for you to enjoy time and time again.

For those who attended, are you ready to see your sassy self in a photo? The talented Toby Sprague captured the evening in still photos that you can view, download and have printed for a nominal cost. Click his name above, click client access, select Ready or Not, and enter your email address; all the photos will magically appear for your review.


The heartfelt stories shared by Todd Savage, Deb LeMay, Carol Curoe, Gary Mazzone and the always entertaining Doug Melroe gave insight and inspiration to the future of GLBT acceptance. Thank you for your courage to publicly share your stories. Do you want another good read? Carol Curoe's book, Are There Closets in Heaven, can be purchased on

A call to action: You may ask, “What's next for Hjordy & Paul Wagner?” The answer is exciting - more book signings and a Ready or Not Road Tour of the U.S.A. Wait until you hear about this! :)

Friday, June 19th, 7:00 pm: Rosedale Borders Book Signing & Meet/Greet
866 Rosedale Center
Roseville, MN 55113

Saturday, June 20th, 1:00 pm: Richfield Borders Book Signing & Meet/Greet
800 West 78th Street
Richfield, MN 55423

Note: Are you in the Cities June 19 and 20? Email us for a voucher which entitles you to 15% off your purchases at Borders and is good for the entire weekend of June 19th - June 21st. The proceeds (15%) will go to support PFLAG St. Paul Minneapolis. Time to shop!!!

And, more appearances at:

Saturday, June 21, 2:00 pm: PFLAG Presentation - bring your friends and family!Mayflower United Church
106 E Diamond Lake Road
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Saturday and Sunday, June 27th and 28th, 10:00 am -5:00 pm:
Twin Cities Pride
Loring Park
Minneapolis, MN

The Ready or Not booth is next to the Target booth in the Children & Family area. There will be book signings, a children's activity, and drawing each day for a Border's gift card. Thanks, Borders!

Can't make any of the appearances but still want to buy the book? No problem, just visit to buy the book online.

Ready or Not...Road Trip
You heard it right, Hjordy & Paul are going On he Road Across the U.S.A.

You know the mission, we have heard your voice of encouragement, and now it is time that we get the message out to the rest of the country. Their focus through September will be in the tri-state area of MN, WI and IA.

Starting in October, Hjordy and Paul will begin the first leg of the U.S. tour traveling west. There are 3 legs to this tour. We will share more with you as our plans develop.

How you can help...We will be circling back with you in the upcoming weeks once we have the Ready Or Not Road Trip Itinerary. In the meantime, please let us know if there is a city in the U.S. that needs our special attention.

Thank you again for your support, love and encouragement!

For more information on Hjordy & Paul Wagner and their upcoming events, please visit:

Facebook Fan Page: Keyword: Ready or Not or Click Here

Here are the direct links for this blog:

Book Launch Video Recap:
The Firm:
Beyond Chocolates:
W Hotel Minneapolis:
Soul 2 Soul Dance Conversion: Keyword: Terry Kuehn
Esera Tualo:
Candi Stratton:
Life Image LLC:
Toby Sprague: http://www.tobysprague.coma/
re There Closets in Heaven: Keyword: Are There Closets In Heaven?Facebook Fan Page:

Thank you,

Hjordy & Paul Wagner

Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Expo America was Unbelievable!

We (Paul, Hjordy and Brad) don't need much of an excuse to go to New York so when we had the opportunity to have an author package for Book Expo America (BEA) from Phenix and Phenix, our publicist, we jumped on it. The first and last part of our week was fun time. We went to some plays and a few daytime talk shows when we weren't busy with BEA. We were in the audience of The Mike & Juliet Show and were sorry to hear that the show was closing.

The first day we went to BEA we were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of people and booths. We talked with some vendors and just walked the area. We left feeling we hadn't been too productive. After debriefing about the day, we decided the next day (Saturday), we would hand out bookmarks and cards to book store owners, librarians, and teachers. The strategy served us well. We heard a lot of good feedback about our book and stories were shared about someone they knew who was gay. The stories were sad, surprising, and heartwarming. At 1:30 we took our place in booth 16 and had a solid line of people waiting for their book and signature. Our strategy worked. All of our books disappeared with people standing in line wanting our book.

One young man broke our heart. He didn't speak English very well but the essence of his story was his family had shunned him. There was no communication from his family over the past year. He wanted our book with the hope that his family would see a different point of view and accept him for who he is.

After the author signing, we went to the podcast area. We answered questions for about 5 minutes. The interviewer was great and we left with a sigh of relief. We continued to network but we also decided it was time for us to get some of those coveted author signatures. We ended up sending a box of books home, or so we thought. Our box ended up in Deleware. All was not lost, however, because the man who had our books told us his story. He didn't want to be defined as the homophobic guy. He became friends with a gay man and he saw that he was wonderful person. He is now on the aother end of the spectrum as a strong advocate. We met and talked with the most amazing people since our book has come out. He was one of those amazing men.

Sunday at BEA was slow. The volume of people was diminished so we had time to talk with the exhibitors. It was relaxing and fun. We left around noon to meet the sons of our good friends in Red Wing. We don't know if we'll be at Book Expo again but it was a learning experience and we will hopefully come back in the near future.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Launch Celebration: May 21, 2009 at the W Hotel

Where to start.... On May 21, 2009, Paul and I had one of the most memorable evenings of our life. We had a sold out crowd with 400 registered guests. Brad had assembled a planning committee and group of volunteers that totalled over 30 people. In addition to that, there were all the people from the W Hotel making the evening special for our guests. This event will be viewed forever through the eyes of our photographer who took over 400 photos of the evening and a videographer who captured the essence of every aspect of the evening. We will share that with you when it is completed.

The guest speakers who shared their personal stories with our guests were moving. There were tears in the audience. Paul and I weren't sure if the lump in our throat would go away before we were behind the podium. Our boys spoke prior to us and we could not have been more proud of them. The Emcee of the evening was absolutely fabulous. He had just enough humor and was extremely prepared for every transition with just the right introduction. Paul and I shared our remarks with the crowd. Paul brought down the house with his golfer joke. We were humbled by the turnout and warm words of support we received from our guests. It was amazing.

And then the celebration became an out and out PARTY! The Belladivas turned up the energy with their wonderful singers and band. They definitely earned their award as the best group of the Twin Cities area. Esera Tuaolo sang two wonderful songs followed by Candi Stratton with her Cher impersonation. The evening ended with the Belladivas rocking the house. The room was still full of energy with people lingering after the last song was sung. It was a true celebration of diversity where everyone could be themselves and feel good about who they are.

A huge thank you goes to Brad and his committee for putting the details together and making this the best party ever! I am sure there has never been a book launch like this one......

KSTP Twin Cities Live

May 21, 2009 was a day to remember on so many fronts. Two days prior to our Book Launch, we received a notice from our publicist that Twin Cities Live wanted us for an interview. We were interviewed over the phone by the producer and then it was a go for the show. We were unaware of the questions we were going to be asked which gave us some nervous moments.

Once we arrived at KSTP, we were welcomed and escorted to our "holding area." Paul observed their wall of fame with famous guests throughout the years such as Edgar Bergen, Andy Griffin and many more actors and sports stars. We weren't there very long before being called to studio.

We sat on the couch to see how the three of us looked - usually they don't have more than two people. Andrew was able to come with us but Brad was too busy with final details of the Book Launch.

John Hanson and Rebekah Wood, co-hosts of TCL, made us feel very comfortable. John talked with Andrew about his work and life in Las Vegas. I think we talked nonstop for 15 minutes before going on the air.

The interview was about 9 minutes and was at the top of the hour. They asked good questions and we felt comfortable with our answers. It was a great experience. It you haven't watched Twin Cities Live, be sure to tune in. Both co-hosts are amazing. Click on this link to view the interview:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Caledonia SEED Workshop: May 11, 2009

It was great to visit Paul's hometown of Caledonia, Minnesota. We spend three hours with dedicated educators from Caledonia, Spring Grove, and La Crescent along with other school personnel. We ended our time with our Ready or Not...Let's Talk discussion cards. We left Caledonia feeling we had contributed something important to the lives of those who attended and the many students and parents who may benefit from our words through their educators. Here is a review from the instructor of the SEED group.

Your presentation was a powerful reminder to me of how important it is to be'ready' for life's surprises and challenges. Even when we're really skilled at'talking the talk', we may not always be ready to 'walk the walk'. I think the love and acceptance you show for your sons is and will be a comfort to so many others who face these kinds of challenges. I especially appreciate your courage in speaking out and your commitment to advocating for LGBT youth at home, school, and in the community. It's so easy for me to become complacent about the needs of LGBT youth. I appreciate your respectful, yet powerful reminder that their struggles really can be a matter of life or death, and I can never stop'walking in their shoes'.

Your well-organized presentation was respectful and educational, but filled with humor and love. Thank you again for joining us at SEED, and we hope to see you and hear you speak again very soon!

Deb Morse, School Psychologist
Hiawatha Valley Education District 507-725-5205, ext 1231
Caledonia Elementary
507-725-3316, ext 2008
Caledonia Middle/High 608-769-1619 Cell

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wagners Speak at River Falls Unity in the Community Day

What a day in River Falls, WI. Paul, Brad and I met so many wonderful people who readily shared their stories with us. Paul and I did our first official presentation regarding our book, Ready or Not…They’re Gay. I surprised myself when emotions overcame me a couple of times. Our audience was awesome. We were able to speak with most of the people who attended following our talk. At the Public Library that evening we saw talented people from UW-River Falls along with River Falls community members perform a variety of venues. Every single performance was outstanding. We felt privileged to be a part of Unity in Community. Our hats off to River Falls for providing a well planned day to celebrate diversity in their community. Look at our photos of the River Falls event on our Ready or Not Facebook Fan Page.

Our Visit to Austin: Book Pros and Phenix & Phenix

We have anticipated meeting our friends at Book Pros and Phenix & Phenix for quite some time. We had a great phone and email relationship but it is nothing like meeting in person. The official reason for visiting Book Pros and Phenix & Phenix was to receive information on what to expect once the book is published. Phenix & Phenix employees conducted the training for us and three other authors. The day was a mixture of information, practice, and critiques. We learned the difference between publicity and marketing. We all had a chance to practice radio and TV interviews. Our fellow authors attending the training came with experience, e.g. radio announcer and CNN employee. Lucky them! At the end of the day, we felt better prepared for an interview. We were glad we went to meet with our publicist because we feel better prepared. Once we left, we knew we had to practice our answers so they are succinct, interesting, and memorable (my words, not their words!). Paul and I had a 12 hour drive once we flew into Denver so we had plenty of time to practice. “Now Paul, tell me a little about…..” It went on for hours! Look for our photos on Ready or Not Facebook Fan Page of our Book Pro and Phenix & Phenix saviors - George, Peggy, and Amy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How We Got It Published

We were caught up in the celebration of completing our initial draft of the book. Finding someone to publish it was another big adventure.

One day I browsed through the Internet reading about traditional publishing and self-publishing. I sent out inquiries to three companies through a link on their web page. All three of the publishers responded to me. BookPros, however, was swifter in their response and patient in their explanation of what their company provides. We sent them samples from our book , a brief synopsis, and our bio and waited.

On Monday, July 14 at 1:00 pm we spoke with two representatives from BookPros, one of which was the President. They were interested in our story. Paul and I asked many questions and took notes on the entire conversation. They had read our sample chapters. They said our story was unique and it was different from other books on this topic in that it extended beyond our immediate family. They had to show it to a few other people but he didn't see any reason why they wouldn't accept our book. We got off the phone and felt a great sense of accomplishment. Someone actually thought we had a book worth publishing. It was our first confirmation that we had written something worthwhile. We were ecstatic. I couldn't concentrate on anything that day. All I could think about was the reality of our current situation.

As you have probably guessed, we were accepted by BookPros. We had done our research on the company and felt very comfortable signing up with them. We signed the formal contract and started on our second phase.

We were assigned a project coordinator for our book. She is the communicator between us and the editor and others we worked with along the way. She has done a great job. We have tried very hard to meet her timeline for each step along the way. It is only fair that we do our part so they can do their part. Sometimes it is difficult to sign off on things because you know you could improve your writing. You just have to let it go.

From July through December we edited our work, gathered photos, approved our layout, and sought permissions for copyrighted material. If you want more information about any of those topics, we would be happy to share our experiences with you.

In December the final format was sent to the printer. We received our first copy of our book today, January 29, 2009. YIPEE! All for now.

How It All Started

In 2005 our boys prompted us to write a book about our experience as parents of two gay sons. We always felt that there was a role for us in helping other families with gay children so the idea appealed to us. They were both excited about the prospect of completing a book. We all felt there was a need for this type of story to be told as many families struggle with the news their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We've heard many of those stories directly and through our sons. We aren't perfect parents and our boys aren't perfect sons (although we feel they are pretty close!) but we made it and can't imagine our lives any different now. We feel normal! Sorry - I got sidetracked....

We were both still working full time as educators in the Eau Claire School District so there was a lot of "self-talk" about "can we", "should we" and if so, when? We talked about the content, the arrangement, and how we would even approach such a big project. I can remember sharing the idea with a few friends and they were very encouraging to both of us. I always felt that Paul's voice as a father was important to share. In our experience the fathers seemed to have a harder adjustment when they found out their son was gay.

Once we officially removed our school badges in the summer of 2005, we each started writing ideas and stories. That process extended over three years. Paul kept a journal of his reflections and I wrote specific incidences over a ten year span. We didn't really plan it that way but it turned out to be distinctive in the book. We sometimes covered some of the same content and feelings but in a different way.

At the end of our second year most of our stories were in a rough format but we felt the book needed more voices. During the third year we asked my mom, our sons, and other people who were either part of our story or shared their personal story with us along the way. to share their personal journey or reflection with our readers. We felt that addition to the book gave it breadth; it gave the reader a chance to identify with more than just us. It was interesting that our initial previewers favored different parts of the book. That was good news to us because we felt our goal of association with someone in the book was successful.

The stories were recorded and an initial editing was done. Now what? We wanted to publish our story but we didn't know how to get it in front of a publisher for consideration. That will be our next blog.