Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Article In Writer's Digest "Writing For Kids & Teens" May/June 2014 Magazine!

I'm delighted that my article, "Your Web Presence: 3 Keys to Connecting with Young Readers Online" is out and available now!
Here's the cover of the issue: "Writer's Digest Writing For Kids & Teens" May/June 2014

The first two pages of my article! (which is on pages 32-35)
 
It's a four page article, offering navigational advice for steering an online path to reach your readers. It's packed with tips and examples of authors who are doing amazing things in their online spaces that we can learn from, including: Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kiera Cass, Jeff Kinney, Ellen Hopkins, Mitali Perkins, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Greg Pincus, Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, Cheryl Rainfield, Richelle Mead, Wendelin Van Draanen, John Green and Sarah Dessen!

I'm grateful to Writer's Digest editor Jessica Strawser for both the opportunity and the amazing job she did helping me shape the article. It was very much the author-editor experience as Andrea Davis Pinkney so aptly put it, "my job as an editor is to hold the flashlight while you do the digging."

And we got to the gold!

If it interests you, I hope you check out the article.

And thanks for reading this post about it!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in each one of you,)
Lee

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ursula (The Disney Villain From "The Little Mermaid") Re-Sized... and Re-Cast as a Hero?

I thought this performance by Melissa May, "Dear Ursula," was brilliant. (Note that it includes some profanity.)



Here's Ursula's before and after:


I want to be an ally to the fat community, and helping spread the word about this - and the injustice of it - is one way to do that. Let your voice be heard, too.

Find out more about Melissa May at her website here.

Namaste,
Lee

Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm moderating the "Drawing The Imagination" Picture Book Panel at the 2014 LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 12!

I'm really honored to once again be moderating a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books!

It's called "Drawing the Imagination" and my panelists are rock star author/illustrators:


whose new picture book is "Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons"



Salina Yoon (who is sure to have a fun angle on the discussion)



whose new picture book is "Found"




whose new picture book is "Following Papa's Song"



and

Joe Cepeda,

whose newest picture book is "Two Bunny Buddies" (written by Kathryn O. Galbraith)



Of course, I'll be asking Jon, Salina, Gianna and Joe all kinds of questions, about their latest works and some of their previous titles, about character and story development, series work, and so much more!

(I'm already having a blast reading stacks of their books from the library!)

I hope you can join us for what's going to be a brilliant discussion and exploration of "Drawing the Imagination!"

Details:
Saturday April 12
1:30 pm
Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL 101)
USC Campus


Tickets are free and available here.

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you),
Lee

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Trans-fer Student - A Transgender Girl At An All Girls School, and The Witch Hunt To Find Her Out



The Trans-fer Student by Elise Himes

Rachael, a young transgender girl, gets the chance to attend a privileged girls' school. Her dream becomes a nightmare when rumor spreads that one of the new students happens to be trans. Events begin to mirror the play the school will perform, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, as students do their own modern day "witch" hunt.

This book was published by the author, who themselves is transgender. Add your review of "The Trans-fer Student" in comments!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Blogging Schedule!

Hi wonderful readers,

To carve out more time for my writing and some new opportunities coming my way, starting this upcoming Monday April 14, 2014, I'm going to transition from blogging seven posts a week to five.

I like this painting, "I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold" by Charles Demuth.

I'll continue to blog here at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read? on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, featuring the latest lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and questioning books for kids and teens, LGBTQ history and culture and my social commentaries that will make you want to join me and change our world for the better,

and I'll continue my blogging for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators at SCBWI: The Blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, featuring the latest news, trends, award-winners, marketing innovations, interviews and opportunities in Children's and Teen publishing.

I'm grateful for your participation as readers, commenters, blog-topic suggesters, tweeters and re-tweeters, facebook followers, activists, UPstanders, and fellow members of my online and real world community!

Thanks, and

Namaste (which means: the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you...)

Lee

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Unspoken Compromise - A Transgender Memoir



An Unspoken Compromise by Rizi Xavier Timane, Ph.D, ASW.

Rizi Xavier Timane, PhD, ASW, is a Nigerian-born transgender minister and certified grief recovery specialist residing in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in an extremely religious Christian home and was subjected to multiple exorcisms and other reparative attempts by his family and the church to “pray the gay away.” An Unspoken Compromise takes you through his journey of self-discovery and spiritual exploration including:

· Coming out as a trans boy at eight years old
· Identifying as a lesbian in homophobic Africa
· Transitioning while facing societal and family rejection
· The religious persecution and bullying he has suffered all along

Rizi’s message to the LGBT community is twofold. First, be your authentic self—it’s the only way to inner peace and happiness. Second, if you are in search of a relationship with God, a spiritual path to unconditional love and acceptance does exist for you free from condemnation and negative judgment.

This book was published by the author. Add your review of "An Unspoken Compromise" in comments!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Honey Maid defines Wholesome in this Homophobia Smackdown

On March 10, 2014, Honey Maid launched a commercial as part of a campaign about "Wholesome" that featured a two dad family.

It's pretty remarkable.  Check out their amazing ad here.

The company got a lot of feedback. Here's what they did next:




My thanks to Suzanne and Greg for sharing this with me, so I can share it with all of you!

Lee

Friday, April 4, 2014

College Football player Mitch Eby Comes Out as Gay - and what he said to his Team



This story at outsports is pretty great - especially how it includes Mitch's coming out speech that he shared with his teammates:

"I came up here today to talk to you guys about something that I've been dealing with for quite a while. It's something personal that I've always thought I could just bury away, but I can't. We live life so worried about how other people view us that we forget about ourselves. I can no longer go on living in fear, repressing myself because of how society may view me. I can no longer lie to my friends, family and teammates. It's time I lived life for myself for a change.

"With that being said, I am ready to share with you all that I am gay.

"It has taken me years to accept myself for who I truly am, so it's irrational to expect everybody to unconditionally accept me right away. However, the one thing that I hope that I can count on from each of you, my teammates, is your respect. Your respect as a friend, your respect as a teammate, and your respect as a man.

"Being gay may be something that defines me, but it does not limit me. It is such a small part of who I am. I am the same person you all know, no different than before. I'm still the kid that is obsessed with pretty much anything having to do with sports, I'm still the kid that some of you love to call stupid nicknames like ‘mom' and ‘hot dog,' and I'm still someone who will continue to go out there every day and push myself and push my teammates to be the best football team around. I am your teammate, I am your classmate and I am your brother. And I know that my brothers will continue to stand by my side, no matter what."

When he had finished speaking, the team erupted in applause. Eby smiled, taken aback by the overwhelming response. As the clapping ceased, Eby broke the silence with the most profound words he would share all night:

"So how about some pizza?"

Go read the whole article. It really got me... I only wish that Mitch didn't have to wait to be a junior in college to feel safe about being his authentic self. His being authentic now, and honored and respected for that authenticity, is good, but we can do better than that.

How do we work on the things that kept him from coming out his first two years of college? In his high school? In his junior high?

How about we aim for a world where everyone can be authentic right away? A world with no closets at all.

That's my vision.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boy In Box - A Middle Grade Novel with Surprise LGBTQ Content


Boy In Box by Christopher Michael

After a double murder shakes a suburban town, a boy's life becomes the center of a chain-reaction of events that affects everyone around him.

Luther McRae, an introverted family product of a busy mother, an overworked father and an autistic sister keeps the secrets of his pre-teen angst written down on scraps of paper and locked away in a box. That is, until a new girl arrives in town like a whirlwind to break down his walls and invade his guarded, emotional turf.

This book was nominated for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. Add your review of "Boy in Box" in comments!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Girls I've Run Away With - A Teen Lesbian Skater-Girl Novel


Girls I've Run Away With by Rhiannon Argo


From messy families, skater-girls, first loves, religious zealots, and stolen baby blue Cadillac’s, Girls I’ve Run Away With, is the story of a baby-dyke who must cling hard and fierce to her heart and truth even when the road twists and turns before her in every uncertain direction.

Add your review of this 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist book in comments!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Genie Wishes - A Middle Grade Book Where A Secondary Character Has Two Dads



Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

From the first day of fifth grade, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She's in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah's friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie's place as Sarah's BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class's blog, where she's tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary--especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.

One of the girls in Genie's grade is Anna Miles, and Anna has two dads. It's not really a plot point, but it's there. Genie's family is her dad and grandma.

As my kid put it, "It's a story of friendships changing. I loved it." Add your review of "Genie Wishes" in comments!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sam Orchard's "Family Portraits" LGBTQ Comic Kickstarter (And US Tour...)

This sounds like a very cool kickstarter project, from a creator in New Zealand!




Good luck with it, Sam!

Namaste,
Lee

ps - thanks to Ozma for the heads-up on Sam and this project!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalists!!!

Who will win this year's Lammy?


The Lambda Literary Award Finalists in the LGBT CHILDREN'S/YOUNG ADULT category have been announced!

They are...

Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster, Inc./ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Boy In Box, Christopher R. Michael, Hubbub Publishing

Girls I've Run Away With, Rhiannon Argo, Moonshine Press

If You Could Be Mine, Sara Farizan, Algonquin Books

Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books

Rapture Practice, Aaron Hartzler, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Secret City, Julia Watts, Bella Books

The Secret Ingredient, Stewart Lewis- Author, Rebecca Short-Editor, Delacorte Press (Penguin/Random House)

The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth, Seven Stories Press/Triangle Square

The winner will be announced at the Lammy Awards Ceremony on June 2, 2014 in New York City. Congratulations to the finalists!!!

You can find out more about the Lammy Awards and the Lambda Literary Foundation at their website here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Penny Dreadful - A Middle Grade Story Where The Main Character Has A Friend With Two Moms



Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder

Penelope is ten and lives a rich, protected, and, frankly, boring life in New York City. She wishes she could have adventures like the ones in the books she loves.

When her dad announces he's quit his job to write a novel, the family's finances bottom out and soon they've relocated to a ramshackle house Penelope's mom inherited in Thrush Junction, Tennessee.

Penelope re-names herself Penny, and suddenly she's having adventures - and friends - and the kind of life she's only read about.  And among Penny's new friends is Twent, who can't say his r's and has two moms.

Add your review of "Penny Dreadful" in comments!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Riding Freedom - Middle Grade Historical Fiction About Charlie "One Eyed Charlie" Parkhurst, A Famous Stagecoach Driver In the California Gold Rush Who Lived As A Man And Had A Female Body


Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Charlotte Parkhurst was raised in an orphanage for boys, which suited her just fine. She didn't like playing with dolls, she could hold her own in a fight, and she loved to work in the stable. Charlotte had a special way with horses and wanted to spend her life training and riding them on a ranch of her own.

The problem was, as a girl in the mid-1800s, Charlotte was expected to live a much different life -- one without the freedoms she dreamed of. But Charlotte was smart and determined, and she figured out a way to live her life the way she wanted.

Charlotte became an expert horse rider, a legendary stagecoach driver, and the first woman ever to vote. And she did these things at a time when they were outlawed for women. How? With a plan so clever and so secret - almost no one figured it out.

My note: This is a well-written fictionalized story about real-life One-Eyed Charlie, though by keeping the feminine pronoun throughout, the author never lets you forget that Charlie is "really" "Charlotte." But were they? Isn't it possible that Charlie was the more "true" identity for this historical figure?

While clearly a story of gender non-conformity, the question of Was Charlie transgender? is challenging, as these identities are self-defined. We don't know how Charlie/Charlotte felt about living their life as a man - was it solely to have a better life than they could have had as a woman? Or was it also because they authentically felt they were a man? From my perspective, if someone presents as a man, it's polite to refer to them as such. Thus, every time the author kept referring to the main character as "Charlotte," I chaffed.

But clearly, no disrespect was meant by the author, and this book makes you really like the main character. I enjoyed it.

Add your review of "Riding Freedom" in comments!