Friday, February 24, 2017

Bayard Rustin's words inspire me

With everything going on in the US right now, including the bomb threats at Jewish community centers, the anti-immigrant raids, and now this week's attack on Transgender student rights, these words from the out Gay African American Civil Rights leader are a call to action:

"If we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gays. It will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all." -Bayard Rustin, in a 1986 interview.
Bayard  Rustin in 1965

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference - A New Adult Gay Ex-Boyfriends and now 'just friends?' Road Trip



The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

In an interview about the book, Brent says, "I confess that when I first introduced Otto in 2005 (in The Order of the Poison Oak, the first Geography Club sequel), I was annoyed by the response in some quarters of the literary world. I heard more than once that I shouldn’t be equating being gay with being disabled, because you don’t “choose” to be disabled. Like you choose to be gay?

But the world has changed a lot since then,. The last few years, the topic of “diversity” has finally broken through. It finally seemed like the time to give Otto his own book."

Add your review of "The Otto Digmore Difference" in comments!

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Actual "Fake News" Headline...



Glad we could clear that up. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ian McKellen Performs Shakespeare's Words On Immigration

This is brilliant! (and under six minutes to watch, and hey, it's Ian McKellen!)

And, even though William Shakespeare wrote it more than 400 years ago, it feels so timely...





The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Other Boy - Shane is 12, and is a regular boy... who has to find the courage to ignore the transphobic hate directed at him and just be himself



The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey


Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Add your review of "The Other Boy" in comments!

Friday, February 10, 2017

If you're at #NY17SCBWI, Join me (and conference faculty guests) for the LGBTQ + Allies Q&A



Saturday February 11, from 8:30pm - 9:30pm (and probably for another half-hour after that), in the Chrysler Room in the Grand Central Hyatt.

Can't wait!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lily and Dunkin - Two 8th Grade Outsiders Learn To "Let The World See You"




Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Add your review of "Lily and Dunkin" in comments!

Monday, February 6, 2017

In Challenge, Opportunity: News About My Book, THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY?

It needs a new, brave publishing home.

A nonfiction book for kids about men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history was bound to be controversial. Not so much the primary sources, or the facts (all of which have been published for adults before), but the daring to share it with kids.

Daring to share Abraham Lincoln’s letters that reveal his love for Joshua Fry Speed, and the conflict both men felt about the women they would ultimately marry. Including the 1842 letter where Abraham wrote Joshua, “I now have no doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium [heaven] far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them that that same black-eyed Fanny.”

Daring to share the late 1500s/early 1600s love sonnets William Shakespeare wrote to another man, the mysterious Mr. W. H. Including Sonnet 144, where the Bard wrote, “Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still; The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman color’d ill.”

Daring to share the 1911 love contract between Mohandas Gandhi and the man he loved, Hermann Kallenbach, where they pledged “more love and yet more love… such love as, they hope, the world has not seen” between them.

Daring to share the circa 1899 poem Jane Addams wrote about the “delivering love” of Mary Rozet Smith.

Daring to share the letters Eleanor Roosevelt wrote Lorena Hickok, including the 1933 letter where she wrote about wearing Lorena’s diamond and sapphire ring to remind herself, “she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”

And daring to share so much more…

To put this book out in the world (and into schools, and libraries, and bookstores, and kids’ hands) requires a publisher that’s going to be behind both it and me 100%.

It has become clear that THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? didn’t have that support at Simon & Schuster, so I’ve taken it back.

Now, my book needs to find a new, brave, and excited-to-share-this-project-with-the-world publishing home.

So these true—and surprising—stories can reach young LGBTQ and Allied readers (and the adults who didn’t get to read this when they were kids!)

So it can change our view of history, our vision of ourselves, and our dreams of what’s possible.

So it can change lives.

Thanks for being with me on the journey.

The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?
Primary source materials reveal the true—and surprising—stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. (Ages 11 and up.)

Representation: Danielle Smith, Lupine Grove Creative

Nine of the featured men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history. How many can you name? How many of their surprising – and true – stories do you know?


Friday, February 3, 2017

2 Million Page Views!

A fun milestone to celebrate - in the past week, I'm Here. I'm Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? shot past the 2 million page views mark, and as I write this clocks in at 2,007,765!



Thank you for being part of this blog.

Thank you for being part of this movement towards more diversity in children's literature.

Thank you for being part of caring about LGBTQ young people and teens.

Thank you for being part of my community.

I'm very grateful.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The First Annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles - A Queer Festival of Writing And Reading!

Where are you going to be Saturday March 11, 2017? If it's Los Angeles, or even the Lambda Literary Facebook page for the live video feed, count yourself fortunate.



LitFest Saturday is a full day of discussions, readings, entertainment, and community. The day features four powerful panels:

The Morning Plenary on barriers, opportunities, and being a queer writer in the 21st century with panelists Luis Alfaro, Zachary Drucker, Sarah Schulman, Justin Torres and Rebecca Walker, moderated by Cheryl Klein.

Quintessentially Queer LA, with panelists Ryka Aoki, Bernard Cooper, D’Lo, Wendy C. Ortiz, Claudia Rodríguez and Terry Wolverton, moderated by Alex Espinoza.

Queer Characters in Novels, Screenplays & Everything in Between with panelists Lucy Bledsoe, MariNaomi, Michael Nava, Our Lady J and Peter Paige, moderated by Noel Alumit.

Queer Truth: Nonfiction & Journalism in a Post-Truth World with panelists Tre’vell Anderson, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Melissa Chadburn, Alberto B. Mendoza and Robin Podolsky, moderated by Susie Bright.

That evening there's Lambda LitFest presents UnCabaret, hosted by Beth Lapides and featuring Julie Goldman, Marga Gomez, Ian Harvie, Alec Mapa and Justin Sayre. (Sorry, this one won't be live-streamed - you have to be there in person!)

But, as the infomercials used to say, That's not all!

Lambda LitFest is actually a full week (March 6-12, 2017) of programs and readings, with more than 24 community-curated events all across the city. From Giving Tongue: A Celebration of Lesbian/Queer Poets to Celebrating our Heroes: Betty Berzon, Jeanne Córdova, Paul Monette, Mark Thompson there's so much to enrich and inspire!

There's even a Lambda LitFest Closing Party -- with dancing and crafts!

It's going to be so much fun.

Check out the schedule of events (LitFest Saturday and the whole week's worth of readings, workshops, discussions, and entertainment), speaker bios, and all the rest here.

I'm honored to be part of the #LambdaLitFest steering committee, and I hope you'll mark your calendars, check it out, and be part of the first annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles!

Lee

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Revised Charlotte's Web, Trump Edition



Chapter 1

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" asked Fern as they sat for breakfast.

"To kill the runt of the litter." Mother answered. "Some pigs were born last night."

"Good." Said Fern. "No one different can amount to much, anyway. Can I have some more bacon?"


The End



With apologies to E.B. White, but really, what's going on in the USA politically is so contrary to the values we want our children to have, to the values our best children's books hold, to the best in each of us. 

If we don't speak up, if we allow this prejudice and fear and hatred of others to take root, it's not much of a stretch to think that children's books will soon echo that prejudice and fear and hatred of others. We cannot let that happen. 

The above is not the version of Charlotte's Web I want to see happen. I want Fern to have compassion, and empathy, and kindness.  I want children (and heck, adults) to have those qualities, too. I want Wilbur to not just live, but thrive, and be valued. I want friendship between those who are different (like Wilbur and Charlotte) to not just be possible, but to matter. 

And I want this for our world, too.

In times of darkness, light matters more than ever. The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Friday, January 27, 2017

The ALA's 2017 Rainbow List Is Out!



Created by the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association, the 2017 Rainbow List presents the committee's choices of Best Books published between July 2015 and December 2016 with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18.

Great for readers. Great for librarians and bookstore owners. Great for parents and all caring adults, it's a wonderful resource (and awesome for all to be able to say these books are recommended by the ALA!)

There are five picture books, five middle grade novels, one middle grade nonfiction, thirty-two YA fiction, five YA nonfiction, and five graphic novels on the list. They've also chosen their top ten titles, which it's interesting to note are different from The Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award winners. A good reminder that selecting "best" books is a very subjective enterprise.



The 2017 Rainbow List top ten books are (in no particular order)

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton
The Root by Na'amen Gobert TilahunI’m a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail
And I Darken by Kiersten White
How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireWe Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

The 2017 Rainbow List presents 53 books altogether - and it's one heck of a reading list! 

Enjoy,
Lee

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The 8 Best Things I Get From Attending #SCBWI Conferences (like the upcoming #NY17SCBWI)



I'm pretty excited about the 18th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, coming up this February 10-12. To share why it's always such a highlight for me, here's a list. For those of you who write and/or illustrate works for kids and teens, I wonder how many of these resonate for you, too...

#1 I'm not alone. 

From the moment you arrive in the hotel lobby, there's a buzz of other creative people who share a passion for creating books and stories for kids and teens. You may be the only one in your family who writes, and maybe the people closest to you don't completely "get" it, but for the next few days, you will be SURROUNDED by more than a thousand fellow travelers who not only "get" it, but feel it, too. You're not alone. We're in this together.

#2 I'm inspired!

Sometimes it happens during a keynote. Sometimes in a breakout session. Sometimes while doing a writing exercise in an intensive. Sometimes it's from a guided meditation or yoga class. Sometimes it's something someone said in line while you're both waiting for that slice of pizza, but every day there are moments that inspire me.

#3 I'm learning.

There's always something new that I learn about this children's publishing business, and the publisher, editor, art director, and agent heavy hitters deliver!

#4 I'm improving.

Craft. Even if I'm stealing moments to try out something a wonderful author said in a workshop, or experimenting with flipping a POV, or even trying to outline my novel in a thematic chart like J.K. Rowling did for Harry Potter, I keep working at it, and my craft always gets better.

#5 I'm sharing.

Also known as networking, what this really translates to is that so much of what we do as writers is solitary. So being able to to answer "what are you working on?" and talk about the manuscripts that are exciting me as I create them, to people that actually care about the answer, is wonderful.

#6 I'm finding opportunities.

At every single conference, there has been some opportunity to continue that conversation about my projects. Either with a new possible critique partner, or someone offering to help me on my journey, or, before I had an agent, an agent asking to see something, or an editor interested in having my work submitted to them, or someone with a possible speaking gig, or someone equally passionate about #WeNeedDiverseBooks wanting to join forces, or someone doing something unique and inspiring that I want to feature on the SCBWI blog, or someone with an LGBTQ kids or teen book to highlight on this blog, there's always a list of wonderful follow-ups from every conference I attend.

#7 I'm holding safe space for writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes.

At every conference in New York and Los Angeles since 2009, I've hosted the LGBTQ + Allies Q&A sessions. We always get great faculty guests to come and share their perspective and answer attendee questions about writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes. I'm proud and honored to be able to contribute in this way.

#8 I'm blogging.

Taking notes, blogging at the official conference blog, and tweeting updates as the conference day unfolds keeps me alert and accountable and processing throughout. And I'm so fortunate to be blogging with an amazing team: Martha Brockenbrough, Jolie Stekley, Jaime Temairik, and Don Tate. Pro Tip: Follow the #NY17SCBWI hashtag on your favorite social media channel to see moments from the conference unfold in real time. Twitter is really good for great quotes. And follow the official SCBWI conference blog for more in-depth reporting on the keynotes, panels, and sessions.

BONUS: I'm open to the unexpected.

There's always a twist. A middle-of-the-night inspiration for a new picture book manuscript. Or a character breakthrough. Or an unexpected new friendship. Or a kindness extended to me that changes everything about a project I'm working on...

I love the SCBWI Winter and Summer Conferences. And I hope I get to see you at this one!

You can find out all the information about #NY17SCBWI here.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Monday, January 23, 2017

Is Google's Search Algorithm Creating Dangerous Echo Chambers?

This under six-minute video by the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Miseducation of Dylann Roof, raises some disturbing, and important, questions.



Beyond sharing this video, there's the issue of what can we do to influence Google to fix this problem with how their system works? Is there some additional layer of vetting of websites that needs to happen, and if so, by whom? When hates sites and fake news sites aren't identified as such, how do we stop them from being the sole source of someone's information, or as the Southern Poverty Law Center put it so well, misinformation?

An important issue to consider the first week of President Trump.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee