Monday, February 28, 2011

The power of reading out loud: One Gay Second Grader's Life-Changing Experience of Hearing His Teacher Read "Stuart Little" aloud to his class

Sheila, blogging over at The Sheila Variations, posted this beautiful article, "An Ode to E.B. White and a Very Special Teacher."

Go check it out. I'll wait.

Honestly, I got all choked up there at the end...

I'd never thought of Stuart Little as such an empowering Gay-positive story, but I'm all excited to read it again. In fact, I'm going to read it aloud, to my child.

I found out about this from Alexis O'Neill, who together with Rick Walton, has been encouraging folks to share their "read-aloud" stories at The stories readers (and listeners) have left in their comment section are really wonderful - and you can add your own.

And now, to E.B. White's Stuart Little. You can read the first lines along with me, and of course, read them aloud!

Chapter One: In the Drain

When Mrs. Frederick C. Little's second son arrived, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse. The truth of the matter was, the baby looked very much like a mouse in every way.


Friday, February 25, 2011

The Rainbow Project's 2011 Rainbow List Is OUT... How many have YOU read so far?!

This is the fourth year that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association have put out their Rainbow List -
"an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age."
There are 32 books featured in The 2011 Rainbow Project List - including biographies, non-fiction, picture books, and middle grade and young adult novels - and they give a short summary of what each book is about!

And this year, they've chosen their top 10 titles (marked on their list with an *)

It's a wonderful way to check in to see how many you've read... and to build your own to-read pile!

I was pretty shocked to realize that I've only read TWO of these 32 books so far. Yikes! And at the same time, Hurray! That means I've got some wonderful reading ahead of me...

So, how about it? How many of these titles have you read so far, and which ones are you super excited to read?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister- A Middle Grade Graphic Novel with A Gay Parent

By Charlotte Agell

India (named after the ink, not the sub continent) is nine.

She was adopted from China and lives with her Mother in small town in Maine, and spends the weekends with her Gay Dad and his partner in a nearby town.

As India says,

"I love my dad, too, except that he lives with Richard, and I'm just not so sure about Richard. It doesn't seem fair that he gets to see Dad every day and I don't."
Here's the really charming book trailer:

A diary-like illustrated story, the book isn't about these potential "issues" - it's about India and her dog, Tofu, and her friend, Colby, and the everyday - and yes, accidental, adventures of being nine.

You can check out India (the character's) blog here. And add your review of "The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister" in comments!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Trevor Project,, and Lee Wind (That's Me!) Team Up To Create A New Book Club For GLBTQ & Allied Teens And Young Adults (13-24)!

This has been in the works for almost a year, and I'm delighted to finally share with you that it's happening!

The Trevor Project has a social networking site for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning & Allied 13-24 year olds called TrevorSpace, with over 15,000 members so far... And we're going to create a book club for them!

Here's a bit from the official press release:

“I’ve volunteered for years with high school GSAs, and there’s nothing more awkward than being a teenager and feeling like you have to talk about your identity. A shared experience, like everyone reading the same book, lets conversation happen organically and builds community. That’s why I’m so excited about teaming up with The Trevor Project to make this book club a reality,” said Wind, whose blog “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?” has had over 450,000 visits from LGBTQ teen readers and their allies.

I'll be working with the Trevor Project's Youth Advisory Council to help select the titles - six books and authors a year featured for interviews (I'll interview the authors with my own and teen reader questions, and those discussions will debut here on this blog), 2-3 weeks of daily discussion threads on TrevorSpace, and a finale of live web chats where I'll moderate a Q & A between the authors and their teen and young adult readers! There will be signed copies to win as give-aways, the opportunity to talk about some great books, and most of all, a way for GLBTQ teens and young adults to connect with each other and build community!

Our preview book will be New York Times Best Selling Author Jodi Picoult's "Sing You Home" - with the kick-off interview on March 4, 2011. The book club will officially launch with David Levithan and John Green's Ground- and Record-Breaking (as the first teen novel with a Gay main character to bust onto the New York Times Best Seller List) "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" on April 29, 2011. Other titles this year will be Lambda Award Winner Alex Sanchez' "Boyfriends with Girlfriends" and New York Times Best Selling Author Ellen Hopkins' "Perfect," with more authors and titles in the works.

"Sing You Home" is wonderful - at times heart-breaking, with moments of humor, great characters and so much drama - as we follow the story of a lesbian couple and their struggles to start a family. It is even accompanied by a CD of music - for which Jodi wrote the lyrics and collaborated with Ellen Wilber who wrote the music and performed the songs. The book is available starting March 1st, and on March 4th we'll kick things off with an exclusive interview with Jodi right here! An extra event is a virtual book-signing with Jodi on March 7th produced through LiveStream!

The TrevorSpace book club preview title:
"Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult

One more great thing: Jodi is donating proceeds from autographed copies of "Sing You Home" purchased through this link (! to the Trevor Project, to help them change the world:

"Each of us deserves a chance to dream big and achieve big, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity. The Trevor Project is here for young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people to help whenever you or a friend might need to talk to someone. With lifesaving programs and information, The Trevor Project works every day to make the future better for all LBGTQ youth. Learn more at

So go right now and join up at TrevorSpace (if you're 13-24) and if you're not, know that we'll be talking about these great books here, too!

And click on back for my interview with Jodi on March 4th that will start the whole thing off!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blood Brothers: Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal transform Hate 2 Hope

This is a stunner of a story:

I had the privilege of hearing Matthew and Tim talk recently at a Los Angeles school, and I got goosebumps as they spoke about how they met so many years after Tim had thought he had murdered Matthew.

About how Tim found the strength and insights to change his path.

And how Matthew found the power within himself to survive, thrive, and then, ultimately, forgive.

About the possibility of peace, and mutual respect, and... hope.

Their remarkable real life journeys were the inspiration for the YA novel "Freaks and Revelations," and I'm so glad they're sharing their story with the world!

Left to right: Tim Zaal, Matthew Boger, and Me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A New Edition of Huckleberry Finn... Where they're going to replace the "N-word" with "Robot"

I've been struggling over the past few weeks with what to say about the controversy swirling around the new edition of Huck Finn that replaced the "N-word" with "slave," arguing that people's uncomfortableness with the "N-word" made it impossible to teach the book in schools.

Well Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine have come up with the best response I could imagine.

Watch this video they made for their kickstarter project. It's genius.


Thanks Alexis, for the antenna up!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Palisades Charter High School's Anti-Hate Rally: A Report From The Field

So one of the amazing things about speaking at middle schools and high schools is how it connects me with teens and gives me a window into their struggles and triumphs.

After visiting Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles last October, I was contacted by a junior at the school, Dakota, who told me that she and her classmates were planning an Anti-Hate Rally to build on the momentum of my visit. I asked her to let me know how it went, and just this week she submitted this report from the field:

Students at the Anti-Hate Rally
flank the red poster paper where they wrote down
the hateful things people had said to them

Ever since I can remember, there have been gay and lesbian people in my life. They are normal, they are family, and they are greatly loved. Most of them live in New York and I don't get to see them nearly as often as I would like. They are some of the greatest people I know. They have always been kind, caring, and supportive towards me. That is why my E.A.S.T. class seemed like the perfect outlet for me to show my support for them.

At my high school we have an E.A.S.T. class, which stands for "Environmental And Space Technology." In this class we create projects that can some how benefit our school, the environment, or certain groups of people. Past examples have been, creating a rain garden, getting an AIDS walk together, and putting energy efficient light bulbs in our school.

When I first heard that we had to create our own project, I was lost. I didn't know what to do until I heard another girl in my class talk about California Faith For Equality. Their mission statement is, "To educate, support and mobilize California’s faith communities to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to safeguard religious freedom." That is taken from their website. I immediately wanted to help. This was my chance to give back to the community that had given me so much.

Since CFFE is quite busy, it was a little hard getting in touch with them. So, my new found friend and I decided to take matters into our own hands. After the news broke about many teens taking their own lives because they were bullied, we knew we had the opportunity to do something great. We decided to create an "Anti-Hate" rally.

The goal of the rally was to make my high school a place where anyone could feel accepted and to stop bullying of any kind. It took about four months to organize the whole thing. We had to go through many steps to get the project approved. The GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) and Leadership class were the two most helpful groups. Leadership helped with the organizing and the GSA showed heaping spoonfuls of support.

During the actual rally, a large red piece of poster paper was laid out in the middle of our school. We told people to come over and write down any hateful things that anyone had ever said to them, on the paper. At the end, we were going to stomp on the paper and rip it up with our feet to symbolize a new beginning. When I walked out into the middle of my school, the entire GSA was there and they were all wearing purple to show their support. It was so wonderful and fulfilling to see how enthusiastic they were. The GSA members were the ones who wrote most of what was on the poster.

I was a little disappointed to see that even though we had made announcements and put up posters, most people just walked by and didn't bother to ask what we were doing or participate. Some people actually walked by and laughed at what people had written. Luckily there wasn't too much of that, but it was surprising to see people do that.

Even though hardly any outside people participated, the people who did wrote amazing things. People wrote raw and vulnerable things and it was so hard to believe that those things had been said to their faces. When we were done, people ripped the paper up with their hands and said it felt so good to get rid of it all.

Even though the project didn't turn out the way we had hoped, the people who did participate made a huge impact on my life. I hope that this story can inspire other people to create rallies at their school or anywhere else in their community, because we need to support people. We can't let ignorance take over and leave us all with nothing. We all need to fight for equality!

-Dakota, 11th grader at Palisades Charter High School

The hateful words are destroyed.

I'll share with you all what I told Dakota, and it's something I tell GSA clubs all the time - the impact goes far beyond those who come and participate. Kind of like Israel for Jews... you don't have to live in Israel to feel the impact of there being a "safe space for Jews where it's not unusual to be Jewish" in this world. Similarly, I'm sure the Palisades Charter High School Anti-Hate Rally had an impact far beyond those who participated directly. Every student who walked by noticed the group around that giant red poster paper and the ritual of destroying the hateful words, and I'm sure it shifted the atmosphere to be more embracing of equality for all.

Great job, Dakota! Kudos to you and the Pali High GSA for making your school, and our world, a better place!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Girls Are Not Chicks: A Feminist, Gender-Non Conforming and GLBTQ-Friendly Coloring Book

By Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak

From a girl puppet's strings being snapped as she breaks free of expectations and takes up rock climbing to a Rapunzel who this time has "some power tools, a pair of scissors, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album and a bus pass" this coloring book is as much for adults as it is for kids.

Women and girls in our culture are under so much pressure to conform, and this coloring book is a creative way to re-wire all of our brains to believe in the limitless possibilities for all women. It even has advice, including "Cover the bathroom scale with plastic dinosaurs and action figures so you can't see the numbers."

Here are two great pages from inside:

"When she stopped chasing
the dangling carrot
of conventional femininity,
she was finally able
to savor being a woman."

"Not all girls who like makeup
grow up to be dainty young ladies."

I adore this coloring book, and while it wasn't something I had when I was a kid, I'm giving a copy to my daughter - so we can talk about it, and she can learn that girls can truly color their lives outside the lines!

Thanks, Jacinta and Julie!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sometimes The Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon: A Gender Non-Conforming and GLBTQ-Friendly Coloring Book!

By Jacinta Bunnell, illustrations by Nathaniel Kusinitz

From a Girl riding her dinosaur best friend to a Prince riding off into the sunset (on his sparkly pony) with the boy next door, the pages of this coloring book do more than just shimmer with the possibilities of coloring... they sparkle with the possibilities of life being more than what "society" says is okay for our gender.

Pushing these boundaries in this format is fantastic, because I want to live in a world where children accept that just as a Prince might want to find the girl who fits the glass slipper to marry her, a Prince might need to find her because he has to know where she got them so he can get a pair in his size!

Here are two of the great pages from the interior:

I love that she's hoping for a Frog Princess!

"Grumpy hasn't been grumpy
ever since he borrowed Snow White's shoes.
Now the only problem is
what to do about having two Happys in the family."
How awesome is that?

I totally wish that back when I was a kid I'd had this coloring book to read and color and dream outside the lines...

At least we have it now.

Thanks, Jacinta and Nathaniel!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The bullying of a woman who said it was okay with her if her son was gay

So back in November 2010 this blogger Sarah (her blog is anonymous but on the Today show they referred to her as "Sarah") wrote an amazing post "My Son is Gay... or he's not. I don't care." about how her 5 year old son wanted to dress up as a girl for Halloween (Daphne, from Scooby Doo fame) and how she let him. It's a beautiful post, and heartbreaking, too, because when they arrive at his preschool they're confronted by some pretty nasty comments from other mothers.

Her post included these amazing lines:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

The post went viral (including this clip on the Today Show.)

On Feb 3rd Sarah posted that her church (turns out it was a church preschool) pastor is now threatening her, saying that she's in the wrong and that if she doesn't remove the post, consider shutting down her blog, apologize to the women she anonymously referred to as Moms A, B and C and stop "promoting gayness" that he'll refuse to give her communion and basically kick her out of not just their congregation but their whole denomination (so she couldn't transfer to another church.)

And she rightly called it what it was. She's being bullied. For being tolerant, and loving, and wanting her son to grow up to be the wonderful kid that he authentically is.

It's pretty outrageous, and I needed to share.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Glee's Gap Moment: A Gay Valentine's Serenade... But I wanted MORE!

Okay, if you haven't seen last week's whole episode of Glee (Silly Love Songs) you can check it out here.

There was this amazing moment in it, when Blaine (played by Darren Criss) serenades the guy he's crushing on, with the entire Warblers backing him up... and it's at a GAP store!

You can check just that song out here:

It felt like Glee's Valentine to gay viewers everywhere - a cute guy, singing a great song about his liking another cute guy in a really public, joyful way.

But, here's my question:

The song, When I Get You Alone, by Robin Thicke, is about a guy crushing on a girl. Why couldn't they have changed just a few of the words? It would have been even more awesome.

Look at the Lyrics:


[Verse 1:]
Baby girl, where you at? Baby Boy, where you at?
Got no strings, got men attached
Can't stop that feelin' for long no
You makin' dogs wanna beg
Breaking them off your fancy legs
But they make you feel right at home, now

[Hook 1:]
See all these illusions just take us too long
(Ooooh) And I want it bad..
Because you walk pretty,
Because you talk pretty,
'Cause you make me sick
And I'm not leavin', till you're leavin'

[Hook 2:]
Oh I swear there's something when she's pumpin', Oh I swear there's something when he's pumpin'
Asking for a raise
(Oooh) Well does she want me to carry her home now? Well does he want me to carry him home now?
(Oooh) So does she want me to buy her things? So does he want me to buy him things?
On my house, on my job
On my loot, shoes, my shirt,
My crew, my mind, my father's last name?

When I get you alone ('lone)
When I get you you'll know baby (know)
When I get you alone ('lone)
When I get you alone now (it's all mine)

Come on
Oh yeah-yeah

[Verse 2:]
Baby girl you da shit Baby boy you da shi... (look I slurred it, just like Darren Criss did on Glee!)
That makes you my equivalent
Well you can keep your toys in the drawer tonight,
All right
All my dawgs talkin' fast-
Aint you got some photographs?
'Cause you shook that room like a star, now
Yes you did, oh

[Hook 1:]
All these intrusions just take us too long
(Ooooh) And I want you so bad..
Because you walk city,
Because you talk city,
'Cause you make me sick
And I'm not leavin', till you're leavin'

[Hook 2:]
So I pray to something she aint bluffin', So I pray to something he ain't bluffin'
Rubbin' up on me
(Oooh) Well does she want me to make a vow? Well does he want me to make a vow?
Check it
(Oooh)Well does she want me to make it now? Well does he want me to make it now?
On my house, on my job
On my loot, shoes, my voice,
My crew, my mind, my father's last name?

When I get you alone ('lone)
When I get you you'll know baby (know)
When I get you alone ('lone)
When I get you alone now (it's all mine)


Oh no
Get you alone baby

I'm grateful for this moment on Glee, but I want a little bit more for Valentine's Day. I want those nine words.

Namaste, and Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 11, 2011

19 Year-Old Zach Wahls Stands Up and Speaks About His Two Mom Family in Front of the Iowa State Congress

This was awesome:

Well said, Zach.

I'm sure your Moms are really proud of you.

I am, too.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Circle Of Change - A Gay and Transgender (FTM) Teen Book

By Laney Cairo

Kim is 17 and it's his last year in high school. Gay and also transgender (ftm), he's lost and unhappy in his female body, and his mother has agreed that it's time for him to start hormone therapy towards transitioning.

Then Kim meets Dash, a university student, and sparks fly. They start going out, but when Kim reveals that he's transgender, Dash reacts badly.

With everything else going on in their lives, will Kim and Dash be able to try again and find happiness with each other?

Interestingly, this is the first book featured on this site that is not available in print, but rather is only available as an e-book through its publisher and on Kindle. Add your review of "Circle of Change" in comments!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ricky Martin's Music Video That Will Make Things Better: "The Best Thing About Me Is You"

With Ricky Martin out as an openly gay man (and father!) this made me happy.


One quibble: I wish there had been a same-sex kiss in there, but there were lots of clearly men-men, women-women couples, and I loved the overall diversity!

What do you think? Am I being too harsh - or is the video still a bit closeted?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pink - A Teen Novel With Musical Theater and Identity Crises

By Lili Wilkinson

Ava is tired of being ultracool, of wearing black, of being a radical. She's ready to try being someone new. Someone who fits in. Someone with a gorgeous boyfriend. Someone who wears... pink.

She's transferring to a new school, and it's the perfect chance to try on a new identity... But just in case things don't work out, Ava's hiding her new take on who she is from her parents and especially from her old girlfriend!

Add your review of "Pink" in comments!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson On Changing Education Paradigms

This is so thought-provoking. (And while it's almost 12 minutes long, trust me, it's worth it.)

But before you watch it, take this challenge: How many uses can you think of for a paper clip? Make a list, or count them out. Once you've come up with as many as you can, you're good to go. And yes, it comes up in the video, about eight and a half minutes in:

I love the animation - how it reinforces what he's saying, but I also find his message fascinating.

I mean, ADHD (attention deficit disorder) being geographically determined? He's right, that's crazy.

And I completely believe that the more engaged you can be in something, the more you'll learn! (It's not a chore to learn about what you love - when you're fully alive in those Aesthetic Experiences you WANT to learn about it!)

The whole bit about a factory mentality in our schools, with the date of manufacture being the most important thing kids have in common was right-on.

And the bit about our educational system actually harming our ability to think creatively - to achieve divergent thinking - is shocking... especially because it feels accurate. This was always my personal challenge with multiple choice questions, because I could always come up with ways that more than one answer would work.


What do you think?


p.s. My thanks to Asako for sharing this video with me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A New Study Finds That LGBT Kids Face More Punishments... and why that makes queer kid lit even more important!

Reported in School Library Journal this week is a new study from Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics that finds:

" and bisexual youth are being punished more than straight peers," says Kathryn E. W. Himmelstein, who coauthored the study. "And that's not because they're misbehaving more."

LGBT youth faced 1.25 to 3 times the chances of being punished, according to the study. "Thus, nonheterosexual youth who are harassed or engage in risky behaviors may find that instead of support, therapy, or services, their behaviors elicit punishment," write the authors.

And the article in SLJ, by Lauren Barack, said it so well:

The study is yet another example of why libraries are so crucial in the lives of LGBT kids who are looking for safe havens to find the materials and resources they need.

And a big part of queer and questioning kids finding the books and materials they need is having writers and illustrators include LGBTQ characters and themes in their work.

That's why I'm so proud to have these Find the LGBTQ in SCBWI discussions at the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators national conferences, to encourage and support the creators of content for children to include LGBTQ characters and themes!

Think about it. If you're a writer or illustrator, can YOU include gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning or gender non-conforming characters or themes in YOUR work?

Let's make our world a better place for all kids - one LGBTQ-inclusive story at a time.


Thanks to Caroline for the heads-up on the SLJ article!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shadow Walkers - A Gay Teen Paranormal Thriller (and Romance!)

By Brent Hartinger

Here's Brent's rundown on what Shadow Walkers is about:

Zach lives with his grandparents on a remote island in Puget Sound in Washington State. With only his little brother, Gilbert, to keep him company, Zach feels cut off from the world. But when Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tries the only thing he can think of to find him: astral projection. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm — a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who's intriguing (and cute).

As Zach and Emory track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows, but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach.

And here's a great video Brent made - not so much a "book trailer" as his own "Seven Reasons You Should Read Shadow Walkers:"

Add your review of "Shadow Walkers" in comments!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bad Boy - Ice Hockey. A Gay Best Friend. And Lots of Questions About Who You Are.

By Diana Wieler

It's senior year of high school, and when A.J. and his best friend Tulsa both make the Triple A Hockey team, everything seems perfect.

Then A.J. discovers something Tulsa wasn't ready to share - that Tulsa is gay.

A.J.'s escalating temper and aggressiveness on the ice make him the "Bad Boy" of the Cyclone hockey team, as he struggles to figure out what Tulsa's being gay means about who he is.

"Bad Boy" won the
Governor General's Award for the best Canadian Children's Literature book of 1989. Add your review of "Bad Boy" in comments!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#NY11SCBWI: My Top 16 Things

Okay, I tried to make this a "Top 10" list about my take-aways from the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference, but there was just too much good stuff to share!

1. Being part of SCBWI Team Blog was fantastic! It's a lot of work, but fun and satisfying - especially as so many people came up to me to thank me for the conference blog and all the tweets! And working with Alice Pope , Martha Brockenbrough, Jolie Stekley, Jaime Temairik and Suzanne Young is a joy!

2. There was a lot of talk of beginnings at the writers intensive:
Edward Nearsulmer IV saying "you don't want Hector on the cliff on page one, or on page fifty." But you do need to grab his attention.
And Mary Kole saying "where to begin is the eternal question" in any story, and advising: "for the first moment, establish something and stick with it."
I think a lot about how to start each story I work on, and I'm glad to add these craft gems to my toolkit!

3. Liz Szabla's words on a tight plot: removing one incident will make the whole story crumble (rather than just leaving a hole.) That's very wise!

4. Lois Lowry's point behind her great quote, "give sorrow words."

give happiness words, give jealousy words, give anxiety words, give fear words - take those intense emotions you've experienced in your life, and give them words.

The idea is that if we use our real emotions on the page, then what we write will be true, and inspired. It's the same brilliant point Mo Willems made when he said in the humor panel (speaking about the third and penultimate Knuffle Bunny book)

"Everything in it was a lie, but it was a true story"
because it was based on emotions he's had!

This came up during the writers intensive as well, with a fellow writer having the epiphany that the REAL EMOTIONS she was feeling needed to get on the page, and this theme really resonated for me throughout the weekend (and beyond!)

5. Alexandra Cooper assuring us
"Everyone's looking for the next sparking debut."
I like that. It's full of hope, on both sides of the equation.

6. Jules Feiffer saying
"If you show you're angry in print, no one will get angry with you." (it's a turn off) "You have to do it seductively and subversively."
I thought that was really profound. It kind of fits with my own theory that scenes are more emotional to read when the character doesn't let themselves cry. When they fight it.

Look - I'm on the sign for the LGBTQ in SCBWI panel!

7. Moderating the LGBTQ in SCBWI Chat, from Aaron Hartzler's goose-bump inducing introduction to Ari Lewin and Jim McCarthy's sitting in a giant circle with myself and Aaron and more than 50 conference attendees to talk about and answer questions on including LGBTQ characters and themes in children's literature. And most of all the sense of TRIBE within our SCBWI TRIBE - and how so many attendees hung out and met each other afterwards! A number of people approached me afterwards to thank me and said that the discussion has emboldened them to finally include LGBTQ characters in their current work - and that's so wonderful!

8. Sara Zarr's quoting The War of Art:
"Save the chaos and drama for your books."
YES! I love this and believe in it! I would needlepoint it on a pillow if I did that sort of thing. Maybe I'll make it a T-shirt, with a slight shift in P.O.V.: "I'm saving the chaos and drama for my books."

9. Sara Zarr's keynote on living a creative life, and her urging us to "try to lead a mentored life" - a life where we are mentored and we mentor others. I'm amazed and honored at all the informal mentoring I'm fortunate enough to receive: writers and artists well established in their careers - members of SCBWI - reaching out to me, believing in me, advising me and cheering me on. And now, being part of the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program and being officially mentored by the incredible editor Emma Dryden makes this one resonate even more powerfully for being mentored, and I endeavor to be a mentor to others, too - to kid lit writers and illustrators through my work with SCBWI and, of course, to GLBTQ Teens and their Allies through this blog, the books I'm writing, my speaker visits in schools and my volunteering weekly as an advisor at a local high school's GSA club! Being mentored and mentoring is a beautiful, profound and exciting way to live my creative and overall life.

10. The panel on humor and Lenore Look's insight about the power of humor being like the court jesters of old, enabling the King to look carefully at things that were hard to look at and think about those big, uncomfortable questions.

11. Linda Sue Park's keynote brilliance:

"I stopped thinking about me and starting thinking about the work, and things started to flow."

12. Linda Sue Park's working definition of voice (Rita, we finally have one!)

Voice: The best words in the best order to serve the story.

word choice - for meaning and nuance
word order - for structure and rhythm

and use those tools in service of the story.

13. There was lots of talk about the current changes in the market for kid lit, and how some of the challenges may actually be opportunities, but this one idea I heard twice: Teens are experiencing digital fatigue, and need books to decompress from technology. (Ginger Clark and, well, I apologize that I don't remember the other brilliant speaker who said it, but it is a take on the current market that is really sticking with me.

14. The hanging out moments of community and friends. Thursday night hanging out with Ellen, Alice and Suzanne at the hotel restaurant/bar. So much fun! Friday night doing kid lit drink night and chatting with Mary and Laurie and Joni. Seeing Emma and Esther and David and David and Laurent and Bonnie and Arthur and Mo and so many more friends and colleagues before that - and meeting so many new ones! Saturday night drinks at the hotel bar with Mandy and Tiffany and Jeff and Kim and Linda Sue and a huge group of friends new and old and swapping horrifying food stories. And there's a lesson here for every conference attendee: Don't think of the conference as just the sessions. So many wonderful moments and conversations and connections happen just by being open to the serendipity of bumping into other kid lit folks at the hotel bar. In the lobby. Over a bagel. Now that the New York hotel has a great restaurant bar, it's much more like the Los Angeles conference in that people are hanging out afterwards and connecting.*

15. All the conference attendees who came up to me and told me they've read this blog. And thanked me for doing it. That means so much to me. Thank you.

16: I feel turbo-charged! These SCBWI conferences are career-changers, and I always feel energized about the business, craft and inspiration of this calling to create children's literature. But most of all, I'm reminded that it's the sense of TRIBE, the feeling of belonging to a community, that I value the most. And I'm so grateful to be part of it.


*If your name's not listed above, it doesn't mean I don't think you're fabulous. You are. And I cherished our connection.