Monday, August 31, 2009

Jew & Arab: A Jewish college student helps his Palistinian Arab friend pay for college! The World Is Changing...


Two kids meet at a camp in Maine that brings together Teens from areas of conflict.

One is Jewish.

The other Arab.

Their common desire for peace started their friendship, and years of emails and calls and visits to each other's families strengthened their connection.

So when the Arab youth got into a US college and thought he'd have to turn it down because there was no way he could afford it, his friend volunteered to help.

The Jewish teen asked family, wrote grants, and gave his own money...

And they are now BOTH attending college here in the USA.

Sound like fiction?

Even better. It's a true story!

Joseph Katona and Omar Dreidi are the guys.

Seeds Of Peace is the camp.

Now I know, right about now, you're wondering:

Um, Lee. What does this have to do with GAY teens?

And here's my answer:

Everything. If a Jewish and an Arab kid can connect, get past the stereotypes, the hatreds, the history of cruelties, and see each other for the real, 3-dimensional human beings that they are, and find more than common ground, find FRIENDSHIP, true friendship, where you put yourself out there to help the other realize their dreams...

than so too can each of us who are part of the GLBTQ community. Each of us can connect with others. Create friendships. Nurture Allies.

It is in the knowing of someone, truly knowing them, that stereotypes crumble.

Hatred is only possible when it's a vague "other." Strange. Scary.

That's why we need to be as out and open about being Gay as we can. The more people know us, and see us as real, 3-dimensional human beings that we are, they'll find common ground with us, FRIENDSHIP with us. True friendship, where we are there for each other, and help each other realize our dreams!

So let's reach out to others, to our ALLIES beyond our GLBTQ community. And let's be friends.


Joey and Omar are showing us all the way. And our world really is changing for the better!

I found out about Joey and Omar in People magazine's September 7, 2009 issue, page 86, "Heroes Among Us." And they really are!

Namaste,
Lee

For more info on Joey's fundraising efforts on Omar's behalf, click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Survey of U.S. College Football Players finds that HALF of them know they have a GAY teammate!

Check this out!


ESPN magazine asked 85 college [U.S.] football players if they had a gay athlete on their team.

While 49.4 per cent of all those surveyed said yes, this figure rose to 70 per cent among Pac-10 colleges, such as UCLA, Stanford and Oregon.


Okay, so how many of those gay college football athletes are out?

Ummm...

(Does anyone else hear the crickets?)



So, is it a football? Or is it a pig-leather wrapped closet door handle?

I'm glad these younger players know that Gay people are part of their teams and the world. It would be nice if these Gay players can start coming out, while they're playing (not after they retire from the NFL.) And their straight teammates need to come out at the same time, as supportive. That's how we'll move the culture of sports in the U.S.A. along!


Despite the deep closet, I confess to mixed emotions. I do think this survey is a sign that our world is changing, for the better.

The question we each need to ask ourselves is:

How can I help make the change happen?


And maybe the answer is as simple as this wonderful quote from Ghandi:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.


Come on. Let's be the change!

Namaste,
Lee

Here's the full article on the survey, from pinknews.co.uk

Thursday, August 27, 2009

HRC's No Excuses Campaign For Gay Equality: My "Personal-Becomes-Political" Diary, Week One



Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I get this email from HRC, about how pro-gay legislation has been back-burnered in Washington D.C., and even though we have Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate, as well as a "friendly" President who might SIGN these bills into law, we're not seeing our issues being addressed.

HRC's proposed solution?

To have Gay people and our Allies, members of the GLBTQ and Allied community, meet, face-to-face, with all 535 members of Congress. To share our stories so these pieces of legislation have a FACE. A Voice. A Connection to someone real. To us.

They're calling the campaign NO EXCUSES. I signed up.

And on Tuesday of this week, I participated in a conference call with the HRC field team, to get the low-down. The brief. The best-practices advice.

And then, I called.

I live in Los Angeles, California, and am represented in Washington, D.C. by 3 gay-equality supportive elected officials:

Congressman Henry Waxman

Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Diane Feinstein

All three are supportive of Gay Equality. Between the three of them, they even co-sponsor a number of the important Pro-Gay Equality Bills. But these bills need to come up in committee, pass committee, and get to the floor of both the house and senate to be voted on. Pro-Gay Equality Legislation needs to move FORWARD.

NO EXCUSES.

I called Congressman Waxman's office first. Asked to speak to the person in charge of scheduling meetings with his constituents. She wasn't available. I asked if there was an email address where I could send a written request. There was.

I sent an email letter, asking for a meeting.

I also called Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein's offices in LA, and though neither of them meet with constituents in LA, they each have staff with whom I could meet, and who will hopefully pass on my praise and concerns. The Staff of our elected officials do most of the legwork for their bosses on the hundreds of pieces of legislation they have to deal with, and it's important to get our stories to them and through them, too.

I sent two more email letters, requesting face-to-face meetings.

Replies? Only one so far:

I heard back from Congressman Waxman's office with a last-minute meeting slot that had opened for Wednesday, but I couldn't make that timing work. I replied, asking for another time to meet.

All in all, it was a big week of starting out on this "My personal story being an important influence on my elected representatives" journey. It is time to MOVE mine-yours-our Gay Equality forward!

NO EXCUSES!

I'll let you know what happens next!

Namaste,
Lee

Wanna meet YOUR representative face-to-face, and move Pro-Gay equality legislation forward? Go to HRC's No Excuses website and sign up!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Drama Queers!


By Frank Anthony Polito

Jack and Brad (from "Band Fags!") are back, but this time it's the story from Brad's point of view.

Brad and Jack are high school seniors and on the outs - because Jack stepped out of Band to step back in the closet, and Brad is out about being gay. Seriously OUT!

Brad has decided that he's going to be a famous actor someday, and he's in the Drama Club.

But he's lost his best friend, and there's this new cute guy that's flirting with him... and suddenly Drama Club isn't the only place where the drama is happening!


Add your review of "Drama Queers!" in comments!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Masks: Ordinary Champions


by Hayden Thorne

Book Three in the trilogy (check out book one here, and book two here) finds Eric a newly transformed super-villain sidekick!

The Devil's Trill uses Eric's relationship with Peter to gain an upper hand against the superheroes.

And Eric seems to be losing his powers and his will... but he has to do something to turn the tables on the Devil's Trill, and make things right, even if it costs him everything!


Add your review of "Masks: Ordinary Champions" in comments!

Monday, August 24, 2009

When Teachers Are The Homophobic Bullies: How Things Went Terribly Wrong In Minnesota

Alex Merritt

Alex Merritt, now 18, was repeatedly harrassed by two TEACHERS in his high school in the 2007-2008 school year. He ended up having to transfer to a different school. The Anoka-Hennepin School District just settled the lawsuit last week, giving Alex's family a $25,000.- settlement.

In the aftermath, the school district has refused the offer of OutFront Minnesota, a local GLBT advocacy group, to help train staff in the district's new policy on discussing sexual orientation.

In fact, until February of 2009, the old policy directed

staff members to refrain from discussing homosexuality "as a normal, valid lifestyle" in health education classes.

Clearly, this policy led to an environment where prejudice and intolerance were not only tolerated, they were SANCTIONED.

His "fence swings both ways," teacher Diane Cleveland said during a class, according to the investigation by the Human Rights department. Another teacher, Walter Filson, said that Merritt "enjoys wearing women's clothes."

Merritt said he had Cleveland's class before lunch, and Filson's class afterwards. If Cleveland made fun of him for something, he said, she told Filson about it at lunch. Merritt would be teased for the same thing in a new class after lunch.



Can you imagine? The Teachers conspired with each other, exchanging notes on which insults they used and coordinating their attacks!

And Diane Cleveland suggested to her class,

on learning the student [Alex] was doing a report on Benjamin Franklin, that the student had a "thing for older men."


And these teachers are STILL teaching there!!!

This is an outrage. $25,000.- does little to recompense a ruined High School experience. And what was the lesson taught to ALL those other students in those teacher's classes? To the entire school, when Alex was forced out?

And how can anyone figure out the stuff of adolescence (or learn anything from school) in the midst of such obstacles?

Alex, I am so ashamed of those adults for treating you with such a lack of respect. Adults should do better. Be better.

And that school district, that school, and those teachers, have some serious work to do.

My thanks to Brian F. for sharing this story with me, so I could share it with all of you!

Namaste,
Lee

The photo of Alex and the top quotes are from this overview article at startribune.com here.


The Benjamin Franklin quote and more info on the teachers and the whole story is available at
this KSTP TV online article here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jacqui Robbins reads her kids BANNED Books - Why Don't We ALL do that, too?

One of the fantastic things about going to SCBWI International Conferences is getting to meet the people that fill this world of children's literature!

At the recent LA SCBWI Summer Conference (check out the amazing conference blog here!), one of the fascinating people I met was Jacqui Robbins. Jacqui was kind enough to let me share this story about her reading a Banned Book with her child!

Check this out:



And here's the banned book they read together:





You can click here to find out more about the controversy in 1959 over the book's

"...integrationist propaganda..."


Isn't reading YOUR child a Banned Book a great idea?

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tintin au Congo: It's Racist, but should it be pulled from library shelves?

Racism = Bad. Books = Good. Books that are Racist = Hidden?




So in yesterday's NY Times City Room, there was this fascinating article talking about how sometimes a library will basically HIDE a book from its patrons, to avoid offending anyone accidentally.

The example was the undeniably racist second Tintin book, which even the author, Hergé, toned down in later editions. (You can click here and scroll down to the bottom to see the different versions!)

The book in question, "Tintin au Congo," now has to be specially requested, and there's a waiting period - something that curiously, there isn't really for buying and taking home something like, uh, a gun.

But that's another issue entirely.

What fascinated me was that when the article was discussing challenges to books in school libraries, this "solution" to the issue came up again and again. Like here:

“The Million Dollar Kick,” Dan Gutman’s tale of a young soccer player, will stay in the librarian’s office at Hassler Elementary School in Klein, Tex., until the parents who objected to it no longer have children at the school, according to the civil liberties group.

Okay, so they're basically HIDING the books that might offend?

Yikes.

Instead of hiding the books, isn't this where the filter of a parent or teacher or librarian is supposed to jump in? Isn't the ubiquity of the racism in "Tintin Au Congo" a "teachable moment" for an adult to have with a child?

And what really steams me about "The Million Dollar Kick" example above is that because the book offended one parent, EVERY other kid and parent during those school years that the offended parent's children are in that school are denied the chance to read it, as it hides away in the librarian's office!

Maybe the issue isn't that kids aren't able to handle these books and their content. Maybe it's that we as adults aren't willing to be the interpreters for them. We're too lazy or scared to help the kids understand the issues behind the offensiveness.

I guess it's kind of like asking if Nazis should have free speech rights.

I'm not talking about incitement to violence speech, but that stupid Aryan-race-being-better-crap. If we disallow their freedoms, isn't it a slippery slope until our own freedoms collapse as well?

And yet, I remain troubled. Without an interpreter, would reading the racist content of "Tintin au Congo" make a child accept those stereotypes about people from Africa? And what about the Black child who stumbles upon the book, and it's effect on their own self-image?

What would YOU do? Would "Tintin au Congo" find a place in the regular shelves of YOUR library?

What would be YOUR solution to this book challenge?

Let me know!

Namaste,

Lee

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Band Fags! - A Gay Teen Book


By Frank Anthony Polito

It's the 1980s. In suburban Detroit, Jack is a straight "A" student. He plays trumpet and, along with his blazingly gay best friend Brad, is labeled a "Band Fag."

But Jack doesn't know what he is.

Through junior high and high school, their friendship evolves, devolves and gets more and more involved as Jack tries to figure out how he, just like Lionel Richie and Diana Ross sing endlessly on the radio, can finally find his very own "Endless Love."


Add your review of "Band Fags!" in comments!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marked: The House of Night #1


By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Okay, so while I was ranting about Twilight and the lack of GAY teen vampires in fiction, blogreader "SHobbs" wrote me to say that this book series has Gay teen vampires in it!

Damien and his boyfriend Jack are essential (and adorable!) members of the ensemble.


Thanks SHobbs!

So the main storyline revolves around 16 year old Zoey, who is "marked" to become a vampire (from a regular human) and gets to go to, um, Vampyre school. (Love the spelling of that!)

It turns out Zoey is special - even for vampyres in training - and she has special powers. But she's not the only one with special powers. There's some BAD girls at the school - BAD Vampyre girls.

Now Zoey has to stop them, with the help of her new vampyre friends...


Interestingly, "Marked: The House of Night #1" was written by a mother-daughter team. Kristin was 19 when she co-wrote it with her Mom, "P.C." who already had a track record of writing adult fantasy romance novels.

Add your review of "Marked: The House of Night #1" in comments!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Maureen Johnson Responds to her Book, "The Bermudez Triangle," Being CHALLENGED in Florida!



Maureen Johnson's YA novel, "The Bermudez Triangle" was challenged this summer. Some Mothers in pink jackets decided it wasn't only not appropriate for their kids, they wanted the book moved to the adult section of the library, so no other unsuspecting youths would be exposed to the "inappropriate" content...

Check out Maureen's funny and passionate response to the controversy, here:




Here are the links that Maureen refers to during her video.


The Fox interview (get the ridiculous anchor chiming in that the mothers should really be fighting to BAN the books, not just move them to a different section of the library! Fox is so good at that neutral-being-a-journalist-thing. NOT!)


http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/22577720/unfit-to-print.htm#q=%22gossip+girls%22


The Local Florida TV Station's downloadable excerpts from Maureen's "The Bermudez Triangle" are here:

http://www.wftv.com/news/19716133/detail.html



This stuff is ridiculous. Maureen is awesome.

The best revenge to all these book banners? READ her book!


I found out about this at the National Coalition Against Censorship website, here! Check it out. And thanks for Maureen for her permission to share her video here!

Namaste,
Lee

Friday, August 14, 2009

Matt Alber's "End of the World" Music Video

Watch this. It gave me goosebumps.




Enjoy.


Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous


By Leslea Newman, illustrated by Peter Ferguson

Roger is very enthusiastic. About EVERYthing. He's constantly distracted, and late for EVERYthing. Like school.

His teacher's not pleased about that.

His parents are mad, too.

They decide that for an entire day of their outing on the town, Roger is not allowed to say the word "fabulous."

Roger struggles to obey...

But he knows that

the world's too wondrous to ignore!



Told in a rhyming pattern that had my kid jumping in to say the final word, and read in our house many many many times, "The Boy Who Cried Fabulous" is a wonderful picture book.

Now, I'm not saying Roger is "gay" - he might be, he might not be - that's not what the book is about. It's about his irrepressible spirit, and a joy for life, that is catching. And I see that fabulous-ness in the Gay community. And often the larger community doesn't celebrate that sense of fabulous excess - especially in men. Especially in boys, who are often told to "Tone it down." "Butch it up." "Act like a man."

So, whoever Roger will grow to love, woman or man, I love the sense of infinite possibilities for a life of joy that this book holds out for every reader. I love that it's a little campy, and that the lush illustrations make me think of a 1950s world.

And I wish this picture book had been read to me when I was a little kid... But I'll have to content myself with enjoying it now. And you should, too!


Add your review of "The Boy Who Cried Fabulous" in comments!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

#SCBWI09 Check out the flow of Magic and Fun from Lee's Twitter Feed!


And as the sparks and stars continue to fly from the magical concoction we all created in the SCBWI Summer Conference, I do feel that the stuff that went by on twitter was fantastic! So just to make sure you all have a taste of the amazing flow of events, here's a view of my personal twitter feed for the 4 day Blog-O-Rama!

***

And we're off! The conference begins... #scbwi09 http://yfrog.com/5d77ytj

Jay Asher and Ellen Hopkins dual words: "Banned Books!" #scbwi09 parade of faculty

Best conference attendee profession: "handsome rogue!" Lin Oliver's intro #scbwi09 the audience LOLed!

I had no idea that Sherman Alexie was so funny and heartfelt... Now I can't wait to read his award winning novel! #scbwi09

Standing ovation for Sherman Alexie! #scbwi09 http://yfrog.com/5dur7mj

Will David Wiesner use any WORDS in his keynote??? We'll find out in a second... #scbwi09

#scbwi09 Yes! David Wiesner speaks!

With Frankenstein movie clips! #scbwi09 David Wiesner rocks!

Don't miss a tweet! #scbwi09 SCBWI TEAM BLOG @PaulaYoo @leewind @jaimetem @suzanne_young #followfriday @alicepope @cuppajolie

#scbwi09 @EgmontGal use the Austin Powers accent when reading this: "Oh, Be-have!"

Over 400 conference attendees submitted manuscripts or portfolios for a professional critique! #scbwi09

@EgmontGal Elizabeth Law, manuscript critique critiqued: witty, insightful, kind... Thank You! #scbwi09

#scbwi09 Paula blogged the heck out of our GLBTQ craft &mktg discussion! 40 attendees participated http://bit.ly/SvWnE

#scbwi09 Melinda Long session: 12 years of rejections before her first acceptance!

#scbwi09 Melinda Long tweet tip from her session: Tone is really about the vocabulary you use and how you put words together!

#scbwi09 Get your read hot (get it?) copies of CWIM 2010 at the bookshop! http://yfrog.com/0diiej

@PaulaYoo : NaPiNoWriWee 2009 Reunion! Blog post is up! http://bit.ly/gjA5n #scbwi09

RT @JennBailey Tweet-Up tonight. 9pm Lobby bar. #scbwi09

The tweet-up is jumping! Come hop with us! #scbwi09

This woman knows how to self promote! @jennbailey #scbwi09 http://yfrog.com/18x6ej

RT @edithcohn: am stupidly tired but inspired. #scbwi09 Me three, but that's the best rhyme I can do for now.

#SCBWI09 OK, links in for my Friday "OFFICIAL" posts + extras here: http://www.leewind.org More tomorrow (errr... later today!)

ALL my Links and PHOTOS for Yesterday's #SCBWI09 posts are UP! http://bit.ly/4hKmJY

@PaulAertker 3 minutes. Damn you, Paul! I have been out-tweeted! Aaaaaaaarrrrrrghhhhhhhhhh... Okay, I'm over it. Good morning!

RT @lkmadigan: If u ever have a chance to attend an Elizabeth Law talk ... Do it. She's funny & savvy. #scbwi09 YES!

What makes an extaordinary picture book pane in progress! http://yfrog.com/0kx8gj

#scbwi09 What makes an extraordinary picture book panel, going on now! http://yfrog.com/5h2zgj

#scbwi09 it took 6 and a half YEARS between Melinda's signed contract and the publishing date of her HIBAP PB!

#scbwi09 Melinda Long says she thinks in WORDS, not pictures. Interesting contrast with Eve's answer!

Lin Oliver really gets the POWER of fiction - in intro to Karen Cushman's Keynote - influence of strong girl characters! #scbwi

Karen Cushman quotes Margaret Mead in her keynote, "post-menopausal zest!" Awesome! #scbwi09

Karen Cushman: It's not write what you know, it's write what you WANT to know" #scbwi09

#SCBWI09 Linda Sue Park: "White space is like an invisible word that says, take a breath."

#SCBWI09 rapt session participants in Linda Sue Park's scene building workshop http://yfrog.com/5awj5mwqj

#SCBWI09 Ellen Hopkins' 6th novel, Tricks, will be out this month!

Lin asked to give the agents a moment to gather their final thoughts- everyone whistled the Jeopardy theme song! LOL

Ingrid Law wrote Savvy and never wanted to use the word "magic" so it could apply to everyone if they want it to. #SCBWI09

Ingrid Law's great advice about doing a writing exercise: Be playful, Be creative, & don't think too hard! #SCBWI09

The bookishly blue butterflies arrive... With Max! #SCBWI09 http://yfrog.com/7h774dxxj

#Scbwi09 Tracy, Kimberly, & Elizabeth discover that the moon is indeed made of... Well it's heady! http://yfrog.com/12z6tyj

#scbwi09 Sarah Frances, Katie, & Stephanie look awesome in indigo! http://yfrog.com/epag0j

@dulemba got her drink to match her dress... Or is it the other way around? #SCBWI09 http://yfrog.com/3o1w9j

#SCBWI09 Thalia goes glamourpuss and I feel the love! http://yfrog.com/5gsproj

Claudia Harrington (RA extraordinaire) goes blue with her posse! #SCBWI09 http://yfrog.com/5e9bmlj

Mother Goose and the Goosettes! #SCBWI09 http://yfrog.com/5hp4bj

#SCBWI09 What a party! What a night! And oh boy, what a day we have ahead! http://www.leewind.org

@PaulaYoo I can't wait to hear them! (Paula did a series of "conference attendee tips!")

#SCBWI09 updates from yesterday's conference sessions and pics from the Blue Moon Ball! http://bit.ly/2OpHZ

#SCBWI09 Jim Averbeck is giving great tips for writing for picture books!

@JennBailey Yes! I'd be honored! (Jenn had asked to use a screen shot of "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" to use in her conference session on how to do blogging right!)

@EgmontGal A first! Your PM Keynote will have 2 color commentators! @PaulaYoo & me. Mwa-huh-hah! #SCBWI09

#SCBWI09 The famous (Infamous?) Golden Kite Chicken! @Suzanne_Young thinks it's... http://yfrog.com/66xr7j

#SCBWI09 The Golden Kite Awards roll... Right Now! http://scbwiconference.blog...

#SCBWI09 "In real life there is no gifted program." Richard Peck makes the room ROAR. http://bit.ly/2FsC3O

#SCBWI09 spotted in the audience of Ellen Hopkin's session on voice: Her editor Emma Drydon!

RT @gregpincus: Day four of #scbwi09 Tired. maybe I'll keep my tweets to 130 characters today to conserve energy - LOL!

RT @PaulaYoo: #scbwi09 comment on our live blogs at www.scbwiconference.blogspo... We want 2 encourage a live interactive forum!

#SCBWI09 Day Four Element: Creative Fire! http://bit.ly/1WxuQv

@SCBWI09 Bonnie Bader's Pitch-A-Thon going on now!

@SCBWI09 Bonnie Bader Advice: Don't read your 10 minute long poem into an editor's voicemail!

#SCBWI09 Linda Sue Park wrote 4 historicals before she crossed genres to picture books.

#SCBWI09 great stuff on crossing genres! http://tinyurl.com/ltwd7n

#SCBWI09 Thank you, SCBWI, for the gift and acknowledgement! What an amazing experience, being part of SCBWI Team Blog!

#SCBWI09 conference is over. Home now. So much great stuff to process. Sleep first. Then, http://scbwiconference.blog...

RT @gregpincus Tomorrow (!!!) at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific, it's #kidlitchat. Hope to see many #scbwi09 folks there!

Awake. Blogging about #SCBWI09 Must visit conference blog to see what I missed! http://scbwiconference.blog...

#SCBWI09 My Day Four of the Summer conference Updates are UP! http://tinyurl.com/llus3m

#SCBWI09 4 Days. 5 Elements. The Alchemy of Magic: The SCBWI 2009 Summer Conference http://tinyurl.com/nxjjyv


***

WOW.

Check out the links above, and of course, all the information on the official SCBWI Conference Blog! And come follow me on twitter!

Namaste,

Lee

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Four Days. Five Elements. The Alchemy of Magic: The SCBWI 2009 Summer Conference


Blogging the 4-Day conference, as part of SCBWI Team Blog, was exhausting, exhilarating, and one of the best professional experiences ever! Thank you, SCBWI Team Captain Alice Pope, SCBWI Director of Communications and Creative Director Aaron Hartzler, SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver, and my fellow Team Bloggers Paula Yoo, Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekley, and Suzanne Young, for letting me be part of this Magical adventure!

So many moments swirl for me.

The Water: The incredible flow of information I was part of creating, on the official conference blog and on the twitter feeds. I personally posted over 50 blog posts in the four day period, and tweeted over 100 times (quotes, impressions, conference photos) on both the official @scbwi twitter feed and on my own @leewind

The Air: Getting to learn from stratospherically talented writers who are so accomplished in their craft was heady! Linda Sue Park. Holly Black. Kathleen Duey. Ellen Hopkins. Melinda Long. And so. many. more!

The Earth: Getting to listen to and talk with brilliant editors, and agents, and illustrators, and fellow writers - all of whom, like me, are passionate about children's books! That shared foundation of energy was energizing and so much fun! We - the children's book community, and the members of SCBWI, are part of a tribe, and I felt - more than ever before - that I have found MY place. My people. My friends.

The Fire: I feel so inspired! All the advice, and writing tips, and career counsel, and brainstorming, and writing exercises... I want - no, I NEED - to write!

The Fifth, Secret Ingredient: All the KINDNESS that was shown to me, and that I witnessed. So many moments of generosity of time, and spirit, and knowledge, and more...


And in the alchemy of the past four days at the LA SCBWI Summer Conference, all five of these elements came together... and I had a BLAST!

I know that it will take me the better part of the next two weeks to process through all the amazing things I experienced.

For today, here's one photo I truly love. It shows one of my conference Highlights: My Story's Spine getting a Chiropractic Adjustment from Holly Black!



My friend and fabulous writer Rita Crayon Huang (on the left),
the unbelievably smart and generous Holly Black (in the middle),
and Me (on the right!)



#SCBWI09 - The SCBWI Summer Conference - was magical for me. I hope it was transformative for you, too. And if you weren't able to make it, check out all the amazing information here and on the official conference blog for a taste of it.

And hopefully after that taste, you'll be inspired to come to the next one. And you'll get to experience the full BLAST of magic, and of SCBWI, yourself!

Namaste,
Lee

Monday, August 10, 2009

SCBWI SUMMER 2009 CONFERENCE, DAY FOUR. THEME: FIRE




Today's theme is FIRE, as in CREATIVE FIRE! This final day of the conference will stoke the creative fires within each of us! And hopefully, we'll each head home "all fired up" to create our own passionate masterworks!


I'm really excited that today Kathleen Duey (author of the National Book Award Finalist "Skin Hunger") will add fuel to each of our creative fires with her Final Keynote of the conference at 2:15pm, "TRANSMUTATION: Books That Matter" And if you haven't checked out Kathleen's twitter NOVEL in progress, Russet, do it now!

And the finale of the conference is the autograph party, where creativity will literally surround us - the books, the authors, the conference attendees!!!


Remember to check out our Official SCBWI Conference Blog for all the blog updates throughout the day!

And, for your twittering pleasure, SCBWI Team Blog is tweeting with the tag
#SCBWI09
***UPDATE***

Here are Links to my official conference blog posts from this last day of the conference!

Bonnie Bader: Pitch-A-Thon!


Bonnie Bader: Pitch-A-Thon HOT TIP!



Crossover Writing: Linda Sue Park, Lisa Yee, and Arthur A. Levine


Crossover Writing: Linda Sue Park, Lisa Yee, and Arthur A. Levine, part 2


SCBWI Team Blog - Hard At Work, for YOU!


Conference Take-Aways: Stephen Bramucci


Conference Take-Aways: Kimberly Shumay


Conference Take-Aways: Nathalie Mvondo


Conference Take-Aways: Edith Cohn


Farewell and Autograph Party



Namaste,
Lee


p.s.: I found this amazing creative fire image here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SCBWI SUMMER 2009 CONFERENCE, DAY THREE. THEME: EARTH



Today's theme is EARTH, because sometimes, using everything in our world for inspiration, you CREATE your OWN FANTASY WORLD for the stories you write.

If you do, then you'll be as excited as I am to hear Holly Black's 9:30am keynote "Examining the Strange: The Basics of Fantasy Writing." For a peek at the incredible intellect and creativity we're in store for, read my interview with Holly here!


Remember to check out our Official SCBWI Conference Blog for all the blog updates throughout the day!

And, for your twittering pleasure, SCBWI Team Blog is tweeting with the tag
#SCBWI09
***UPDATE***

What a day! Here are some photo highlights - links to come soon...

SCBWI Team Blog's Suzanne Young
and the famous Golden Kite "Rubber Chicken!"


Paula Yoo and I hard at work on our
Color Commentary Coverage
of Elizabeth Law's afternoon keynote.


Ellen Hopkins and... Me!


And here are links to all the sessions I live blogged from today's conference!

Holly Black Keynote! Basics of Fantasy - A Live-Blog, Book One


Holly Black Keynote! Basics of Fantasy - The Sequel!


Jim Averbeck's Session! Opening The Door: Writing For Illustration


Jim Averbeck's session: HOT TIP for picture book writers!


Everyone's Getting Ready for the Golden Kite Luncheon!!!


Golden Kite Awards: Hyewon Yum


Richard Peck's special Keynote at the Golden Kite Luncheon


Ellen Hopkins on VOICE!


Ellen Hopkins on Voice: HOT TIP!


Color Commentary on Elizabeth Law's Keynote!


Elizabeth Law Color Commentary, Pt. 2


Elizabeth Law Color Commentary, Part 3


Elizabeth Law Color Commentary, Pt. 4


Elizabeth Law Color Commentary, Part 5 - taking it home


SCBWI Regional Advisors Word Parade


Peer Critiques!

So much amazing stuff... and one more full day to come!

Namaste,
Lee

Saturday, August 8, 2009

SCBWI SUMMER 2009 CONFERENCE, DAY TWO. THEME: AIR




Look, up in the sky!

It's a bird.

It's a plane.

It's Super Conference Attendees!


Today's theme is AIR, for two great reasons:

1. Ellen Hopkin's 1:30pm keynote "Not For The Faint Of Heart: The Climb To The Top" should take us to the heights. Check out my exclusive SCBWI Team Blog interview with Ellen to get a preview of what a smart and inspiring speaker she's going to be!

2. Tonight's "Blue Moon Ball" - Inspired by the moon (up there in the... uh, air of... space...go with me on this), and the color blue, and the excuse to dress up and get down... and boogie!


Remember to check out our Official SCBWI Conference Blog for all the blog updates throughout the day!

And, for your twittering pleasure, SCBWI Team Blog is tweeting with the tag
#SCBWI09

Yesterday there were literally 100s of tweets and fistfuls of PHOTOS throughout the day, offering bite-sized "headline" coverage of things that didn't make it onto the main conference blog.

Be sure to check out all the great links to my SCBWI Team Blog posts AND PHOTOS FROM THE CONFERENCE FLOOR AND LOBBY in the UPDATE added to yesterday's post!


***TODAY'S UPDATE***

Here are my blog posts from the day:

Melinda Long on What Makes An Extra-ordinary Picture Book Panel

The "What Makes An Extraordinary Picture Book" Panel in Progress

Karen Cushman tells a story...

Linda Sue Park's Scene Building Premium Workshop

Linda Sue Park's SCENE BUILDING Workshop. Play Along!

Ellen Hopkins Keynote: Not for the Faint of Heart; The Climb to the Top! The start...

Ellen Hopkins Keynote! Not for the Faint of Heart: The Climb to the Top! The early path...

Ellen Hopkins Keynote! Not for the Faint of Heart: The Climb to the Top! The middle...

Ellen Hopkins Keynote! The TOP!

The AGENTS are here! The AGENTS are here!

Agents Panel: Daniel Lazar, Writers House - An Introduction

Daniel Lazar, Agents Panel: Submission Info, and what's Agent's role compared to Editor's role

Ingrid Law: Villains or No Villains

Ingrid Law: NO Villains: Play Along!

Ingrid Law Loves Middle Grade... But WHY?

LAYAS Meet Up! (Los Angeles Young Adult Authors Drink and Cheer!)


And check out these AMAZING Pictures from the Blue Moon Ball!

Edith Thornton Cohn, Sarah Wilson Etienne (as Max!) and friends party on!


The Moon is made of heady stuff... cheese!


Elizabeth Dulemba got a drink to match her dress...
or was it a dress to match her drink?


It's blurry, but that's Steven Mooser boogy-ing on down!


Ladies in Indigo!


The Blue Moon Ball Costume Contest Winner!!!



Namaste,
Lee

Friday, August 7, 2009

SCBWI SUMMER 2009 CONFERENCE, DAY ONE. THEME: WATER


So much to do. So much to learn. So many people to meet and greet!


Today's theme is WATER, because from 12:45pm - 2:00pm I'm hosting the GLBTQ Poolside Lunch Chat (check out my interview with the Lunchtime gathering's special guest Charles Flowers, the Executive Director of The Lambda Literary Foundation, here!)

So come by the pool, look for the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag, and join in the conversation about the who, how, what, where, and why of including GLBTQ characters and themes in childrens and YA books. Because the answer to "when" is NOW!

Remember to check out our Official SCBWI Conference Blog for all the blog updates throughout the day!

And, for your twittering pleasure, SCBWI Team Blog is tweeting with the tag
#SCBWI09


New #scbwi09 visitors, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm here!

Namaste,
Lee

***UPDATE***

Click to see the SCBWI Team Blog Parade of Words Video, here!

Check out the amazing Paula Yoo's blog post at the official blog site on the GLBTQ By The Pool Lunch - 40 attendees showed!

Check out my official SCBWI Team Blog posts on the amazing Melinda Long session. (She's the author of picture books like "How I Became A Pirate":

Melinda Long: Starting and Stopping, part 1

Melinda Long: part 2


Melinda Long: part 3

And try to wrap YOUR mouth around the NaPiBoWriWee Reunion, Like Paula Yoo and her writing daredevils!

And if you follow us (and the #scbwi09) on twitter, you also get PHOTOS from the conference floor and events throughout the day. Like THESE:


The Conference Starts!



Alice Pope and the NEW Edition of
Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market!



The GLBTQ Chat, overflowing the poolside cabana!



Melinda Long at her session on Starting and Stopping!



The NaPiBoWriWee Reunion!



Jenn Bailey knows how to self-promote!
LOVE that T-shirt!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

THE BIG SCBWI SUMMER 2009 CONFERENCE STARTS TOMORROW!


I am officially excited!

I've done my homework: reading and writing (most of it, anyway!)

I'm still figuring out how to use my gadgets (I keep telling myself "I can be a tech nerd. Really!" And then I laugh.)

And SCBWI Team Blog is meeting today - all of us in person - for the very first time!

Here's our (and YOUR) Team lineup:

Team Captain,








And ME, Lee Wind!

And that's SCBWI TEAM BLOG.... GO, TEAM!


And now, here's some essential information for YOU!

If you want to follow along with the conference Twitters,
#SCBWI09
will be part of every tweet from the conference from all of us on SCBWI Team Blog!

And bookmark this url

http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com/


Because that's the official SCBWI conference blog where all the virtual action will be happening over the next four amazing - and packed - days!

So buckle up, click on by, and if you're there in person, say "Hi!"

Namaste,
Lee



p.s.: And, amazingly, if you have no idea what I'm blogging about, go here and you can catch up about this Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Conference!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Anti-Gay Terrorist Attack against Teenagers in Israel... What It Means, and What Can We Do?

Saturday night.

A Big City's LGBT community center. Teenagers, counselors, people doing their best to live their lives, believing they're in a safe place. It's 11pm. There's a support group meeting happening in the basement.

A masked gunman walks in, opens fire, and flees.

2 young people are killed. 11 are injured.

Families get calls to go to the hospital, and that's how they find out their kids are gay.

This all happened Saturday night, in Tel Aviv.

In the aftermath of the shooting.


Tel Aviv Rally


Mourners in Jerusalem on Sunday


(Read the LA Times article on the attack here. More photos here at the afterelton site. And this article here includes what the Israeli Government and Gay leaders said in reaction.)

Israelis already live under the shadow of "threat" more so than anyone here in America can really process. Bags are checked everywhere, almost every restaurant has a guard that checks you and your stuff before you can enter, and everyone seems to know someone who has been killed or hurt in a terror attack... Or just had coffee in the cafe moments before it was blown up.

And with pretty much every Israeli going into the army right after high school, the entire country seems to "get" that you have to - always - watch out for your own safety and the safety of those you care about. It's a country where young kids (I'm talking REALLY young) get cell phones, so their parents can know they're okay in case of an attack.

And in the midst of this intense pressure, Israelis are living their lives, raising their kids, and thriving in the only democracy in that part of the world. Because if they crumbled, if they just locked themselves in their houses and gave over to fear... then they would let the terrorists win - and they would lose the joys of being alive!

Israel has a thriving Gay community. You see it in the Big City of Tel Aviv, but it's there in Jerusalem, and elsewhere, too.

But with this terrorist attack on the GLBT Center in Tel Aviv, there's all this talk about Gay Israelis going back into the closet.

As if somehow, being Gay would make them less resilient. Like being Gay would make them less able to stand up and say "NO! We will not be scared into hiding. We WILL live our lives!"

If, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks here in the U.S.A., if we'd all just stopped flying in planes all together - and from then on only taken trains, because we were scared, then the terrorists would have won.

We didn't do that. We get our shoes scanned. We endure more security. And we keep flying.

Similarly, Gay people in Israel won't go back into the closet. They should be careful - absolutely. But they won't let the terrorists win.

And neither should we. We need to reach out to help Gay and Questioning Teens. Here and abroad. Let them have safe spaces. Let them feel protected.

Let them know they're not alone. That they can be the heroes of their own stories! And help them find out about and get their hands on the teen books with GLBTQ characters and themes - like the ones in the left column, here! Because Books make a difference.

And Because damn it, Teens are our responsibility, as a society.

Let them read.

Let them love.

Let them live in peace, and thrive!


Stand with me. Stand with them.


Love is stronger than hate.



Namaste,

Lee

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Absolutely Maybe


By Lisa Yee

"Maybe" is short for Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chesnut. And yeah, saddled with a name like that, you'd be right that her mother is an alcoholic charm-school-owning Beauty Pageant graduate. Maybe's mother's been married six times, but none of the guys were Maybe's father.

And when her Mother chooses her latest fiancee over Maybe, Maybe and her two best friends, Ted and Hollywood, road trip to Los Angeles.

Ted gets a job as a personal assistant to a fading legend of the silver screen.

Hollywood gets a jump on his admission to USC film school with a summer session, working on his documentary.

And Maybe is on a search for her father.


Yes, there IS some GLBTQ content in this book. But... I don't want to spoil it. So, with Lisa's book, I'm inaugurating a new category on this blog: "Surprise Gay Content." Enjoy!

Add your review of "Absolutely Maybe" in comments!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Children's Chapter Books, Subplots, and the AMERICAN OBSESSION with WINNING.



Now before I get into this, let me put out a disclaimer: This book isn't GAY at all. Nope. Not G, or L, or B, or T, or Q... Though it includes Fairies, they're the tiny kind with wings, and there's absolutely no sense of irony in the use of the word.

But I have to blog about it anyway. And give you a spoiler alert. I'm gonna talk about what happens.

So I’m reading, with my kid, the second book of this "Rainbow Magic" chapter book "Joy, The Summer Vacation Fairy." They’re written by what I suspect is a collective of writers all writing under the pen-name “Daisy Meadows” (because, really – what parent would be THAT cruel?) and I get completely upset.

No, I’m not upset that Rachel and Kirsty help Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy get back one of the magical seashells from that mean ol' Jack Frost just in time to magically restore the stolen wind and thus save the sailboat regatta.

What pisses me off is the subplot. Rachel and Kirsty’s Dads rented a sailboat to enter the regatta. And the girls don’t want their families (and everyone else) to be disappointed if, on account of there being no wind, the race is canceled.

So, after Rachel and Kirsty and Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy successfully get the magic seashell back and – in the nick of time – restore the winds to the harbor so that the regatta isn’t canceled after all, the race begins.

The girls are standing there with their mothers, watching their Dads race in the same boat, and they’re cheering them on. And it looks like their Dads are in the lead... And then, they WIN!

Hurray, everyone cheers, cue the happy ending.

WHAT? WAIT JUST A MINUTE.

WHY did the Dads have to WIN? Wasn’t it happy enough that the race happened? That everyone had a good time?

We already HAD the happy ending of the girls succeeding in their mission.

Their families are on vacation. They fathers have to RENT a boat. They’ve never discussed sailing before. It’s not like they’re professionals at this.

NOTHING would have been lost if the book had ended with the race just being FUN for everyone. We know very little about the parents in this series, and I promise you their sailing abilities are completely unimportant to the plot of this book, or even the arc of the entire series (this is the 16th "Rainbow Magic" book I’ve read with my kid.)

But it’s so illustrative of our culture's obsession with winning. And I think it’s a horrible set-up for our kids. Okay, yes, they should beat mean Jack Frost and get the magic seashell back. I like a happy ending.

Yet in a way this subplot is saying that you can't have fun unless you win. That's a terrible theme.

What better life lessons might have been expressed if the fathers hadn’t won, yet been good sports and had a great time anyway?

I know subplots don’t often get a lot of attention, but this time, I wished I had a magic fairy wand, so "Daisy Meadows" could see the lost opportunity she made in writing this one.

And now, back to reading about Kirsty and Rachel's quest to help Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy in book three, "The Magic Scallop Shell." Oh, no! I see a "Seagull ex machina" coming toward us...

DUCK!

Namaste,
Lee