From Cary to Carrie - A novel

Cary Upton has never been a girl; he never consciously wanted to be a girl. He just wanted to have a little fun with his mother; and God knows they needed it after leaving
their beloved San Francisco just prior to Cary’s senior year and moving to Burlington – "Bumfuck," – Virginia.

No sooner have they arrived than two people mistake long-haired, bejeweled Cary for a girl. This leads Beverly to ask in that annoyingly motherly way, “Cary, have you ever heard the saying, when in Rome do as the Romans do?”

Well, yes,
by god, he has, and now he plans to show her just how much like one of these Romans he can look – albeit, not in the way she had been suggesting.

To save money, they are staying in the home of a company executive who, with his wife and two daughters, is away for a year in Europe. The girl in whose bedroom Cary is staying kindly, albeit unwittingly, provides him with make-up, some lovely hoop earrings and a long, lacy, white nightgown.

The look on his mother’s face when he sashays down the stairs and does his Oscar-winning rendition of a southern belle is priceless, one of the few light-hearted moments they have enjoyed together in the year since his father’s death.  They each have a glass of wine and go to bed exhausted and uncharacteristically happy – until the next morning. 

Foolishly indulging her lifelong love of horses, Beverly prematurely tries to ride one the family’s thoroughbreds. Spying her from his upstairs bedroom window, lying in the arena bleeding and unconscious, Cary frantically calls 9-1-1. Only after the ambulance screams up the drive, does he realize that there is no plausible explanation for why he – a boy – is wearing a girl’s nightgown. That’s how he ends up becoming Carrie, a pretty, young girl in a desperate situation. That’s also how he meets Jacob, the handsome son of the sheriff, who, it turns out, has a weighty secret of his own.

Full of a rich cast of characters, From Cary to Carrie is a story about two remarkable young people who are forced by circumstances beyond their control to find friendship and love where they least expect it and embark together on a journey full of humor, horror and healing. It’s a page-turner that’s fun to read and leaves you thinking.

Danielle and Dillon - A children’s book

I wrote this little book when I was tutoring a little girl named Danielle. Reading was difficult for Danielle, so I thought she might be motivated by being the main character in her very own story. Also, in my many years as a teacher of 4th - 6th graders, I always had difficulty finding good reading material for my weaker readers (like Danielle), so I carefully crafted this book to be on a third grade reading level. It combines fiction with scientific facts to make science more interesting to students and fiction more useful to teachers.

Bethie - A screenplay

Hollis and Estelle Baxton are simple farmers, good salt-of-the-earth people, still trying to cope with the death of their 12-year old daughter from leukemia, when they agree to adopt Billy, the 11-year old son of Estelle’s drug-addicted sister. It’s soon evident that Billy is not your typical boy. As he is recovering from a serious burn got while trying to save the calves from being dehorned, they discover that Billy wants more than anything to be Bethie, a girl. While Estelle and his grown cousin, Archie, are willing to give Billy a chance to experiment with changing gender (after all, who knows, maybe it was just the result of trauma) Hollis isn’t so sure. As it turns out, Hollis’ reticence to accept Bethie arises from his still unresolved grief at the loss of his beloved child, Hannah. After a dramatic and mysterious sweat lodge ritual, Hollis finds it within himself to welcome Bethie into the family. But while the family adjusts to having a new daughter, the townsfolk are suspicious and hostile. When Estelle develops breast cancer, Bethie’s love, devotion and competence in caring for her win over her skeptics forcing them to open their hearts to what they have never experienced and cannot understand.

By virtue of the fact that Billy becomes Bethie, this is a story about gender identity, but even more, it is a story of transformation, not just of Billy to Bethie, but likewise, the transformation of Hollis and Estelle and the small community in which they live. The courage, devotion and love of this remarkable child forces others to move beyond their prejudices and narrow-mindedness to a place of openness, compassion and acceptance.
Woven into the tapestry of this family drama are golden threads of humor much like those found in Billy Elliott. It is as profound a story as Brokeback Mountain except that in Bethie, tragedy does not end in despair but, rather, triumph.  

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