Friday, December 16, 2011

Giving Back, The Holiday Spirit, and Taking Time Off To Fill The Well

Sometimes the best presents are the ones you give.

Recently here in Los Angeles, the Kid Lit Drink Night Holiday Party was a big success. (Check out the great post about it - and photos from the evening - at my friend and fellow Kid Lit Drink Night organizer Rita Crayon Huang's blog.)

Over 120 revelers gathered to drink and network and eat cookies - there were agents, and writers, and illustrators, and librarians, and so many friends - ones we knew and ones we were just meeting!  And everyone who came brought some books to donate to needy kids.  Some people brought two books.  Some brought BAGS of books.  And ultimately we had a lot of wonderful books to donate!

Look at all the books donated!

The empty bookshelf at the LAUSD continuation high school main office, which is about to be filled with the three overflowing bags of YA titles we donated!  The teachers in 29 classrooms all over Los Angeles will get to choose books from the ones donated for their own classroom shelf of books.


Ms. Ward, the Principal of Knox Elementary School, was so grateful for the donation of FIVE full boxes of picture books, chapter books, and middle grade titles!  They have a library but no librarian, and now they have lots of new books for their students!


It really felt great making this happen, and my thanks to my fellow Kid Lit Drink Night organizers Rita Crayon Huang, Sara Wilson Etienne, Greg Pincus, Jill Corcoran and Jennifer Bosworth for making it such a success.

Also, Thank You to everyone who attended and brought books to donate - you also brought your holiday spirit, and it was wonderful to behold.


And in that Holiday Spirit, I'm going to be taking my annual two week break from blogging.  I'll be back fresh and renewed on Monday January 2nd, 2012.

If you're not sure what you're going to do for two whole weeks of no new blog posts here, I thought I'd take the liberty of sharing some great posts from 2011 that deserve another look.  Here they are, for your reprised enjoyment.

1.  LEARN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS:  Check out the entire Gender 101 video series - there are 18 videos so far, and to watch them in order, you can find them listed on the right hand side of this blog.  And once you've watched them, consider how you feel about these parents raising their child without letting others know their child's gender.

2. OPEN YOUR HEART:  Watch this amazing video about Gay Marriage, and an actual gay wedding that happened on TV! And check out the true story of how a teenage skinhead and the homeless gay teen he beat nearly to death met decades later... and became friends who travel together to speak out about ending homophobia and anti-gay violence, about forgiveness, and hope.

3.  THINK:  Consider what our culture tells us about "Headless Fatties."  The humiliation of men wearing pink.  And what bathroom signs reveal about how our culture views gender. And see blatant homophobia for what it is, on TV shows like American Idol, and in the choices parents make about their children's Halloween costumes.

4. REALIZE THERE IS STILL MUCH WORK TO DO: From Transgender people being sterilized to how opponents of gay equality lie, and lie some more.

5. BE INSPIRED, AND REDEDICATE YOURSELF TO DOING THAT WORK:  See what a 14 year old is doing to get queer books into school all across the country, and eventually, internationally.  See the impact of a single teacher to change her students' views about prejudice forever.  Check out the stand a school picture photographer made, refusing to make bullies pretty on the outside, since they're not on the insideRead the blog of three queer teen athletes who are out to change the perception of gays in sports. Find out how to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in YOUR school.

6.  LAUGH:  Fighting prejudice with comedy is an art.  Check out what St. Peter says to an anti-gay marriage activist at the gates of Heaven. And George Takei's hysterical (and generous) response to Tennessee's proposed "Don't Say Gay" law.

7.  GET YOUR PRIDE ON:  With T-shirts, and a Katy Perry "Firework" video that makes me so happy.  And did you know that the more gay friendly a community is, the better it is for straight teens too? And watch some of my favorite "It Gets Better" Videos:  Kevin, a gay teen in Montana. Zach, a gay teen in Iowa, and if it's not too forward of me to suggest it, I'd be delighted if you'd take a look at my It Gets Better video, too.

8.  READ:  There are so many wonderful books posted and reviewed here!  The entire left hand column of this blog... So browse, and choose, and dive into some wonderful lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, questioning, queer and gender-non-conforming fiction and nonfiction!  I am beyond blown away by these books existing in our world of today, and think of how much it would have meant to me to find just one of them when I was a teen.  So read them.  You never know where a book might take you...

And if you don't want to miss great posts like these as we move forward into 2012, please consider signing up for my newsletter - it's one email every two weeks, with one line summaries and fast links to the latest posts, info on my school visits, and some inspiration that's currently resonating for me.

The inspiration resonating for me right now is from "The Artists Way," by Julia Cameron. 

"As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them... I call this process filling the well."

I think those are wise words.  And after 50 weeks of daily posts Monday through Friday, I realize that I need these two weeks to fill my well.  And then I'll be back in the new year, artistic reservoirs full!

Until then, allow me to wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"The Power Within" - An Anti-Bullying Comic Book that's Free for your GSA, school or youth services group!


One of the coolest things I found out about at BentCon 2011 was this comic book, "The Power Within" about Shannon, a guy going into 8th grade who has an imaginary superhero alter-ego to deal with being bullied.  But when things escalate Shannon can't retreat into his imagination, and he has to find the power within himself to triumph.



It's by Charles "Zan" Christensen and Mark Brill, with additional contributions by Donna Barr, Matthew Clark, Phil Jimenez, Andy Mangels, Carla Speed McNeil, Dan Parent, Greg Rucka, Stephen Sadowski and Gail Simone.


For more information on the comic book and to order your copies of "The Power Within," check out thepowerwithin.org

Add your review of "The Power Within" in comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Comedy (or is it Politics?): Stephen Colbert slams Rick Perry's Anti-Gay Campaign Ad


In which Rick Perry says that gays are treated better than people like him, who are proud to celebrate Christmas but are denied their rights, and Stephen Colbert calls it like it is.



Merry Christmas! (And happy all the other holidays, too!)

Lee

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nancy Paulsen, the #NY12SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview

Nancy Paulsen

Nancy Paulsen is President and Publisher of her own imprint, Nancy Paulsen Books, at the Penguin Young Readers Group.  Her list launched in Fall 2011 and some of her first books included "Strega Nona’s Gift" by Tomie dePaola, "You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses" by Taeeun Yoo, "Love, Mouserella," by David Ezra Stein,



"Looking at Lincoln" by Maira Kalman,


"Beneath a Meth Moon" by Jacqueline Woodson,


and "Prairie Evers" by Ellen Airgood


Before helming her own imprint she was the Publisher and President of G. P. Putnam's Sons Children's Books and Puffin Books.

Nancy will be speaking the Saturday morning of the conference, January 28, 2012, as part of "Children's Books: Today and Tomorrow: Four Expert Impressions."

You can join me in following Nancy on twitter at @nancyrosep, and I hope you enjoy our interview:


Lee: Hi Nancy, thanks so much for taking the time. President and Publisher of your own imprint sounds like a dream job. In determining what books you acquire, are you concerned with balancing the number of picture books versus novels, or is your list driven by what you fall in love with?

Nancy: Hi Lee - Yes, this is a dream job. I am so happy to be focusing on finding, editing and publishing books I love, rather than managing a staff of editors. My list is small and selective. I publish 15 books a year and aim for it to be half picture books and half fiction. Right now I have more picture books signed up so I am looking for fiction. But I do sign up what I love so if I see a marvelous picture book, I will go for it!


Lee: Justin Chanda said at the 2010 SCBWI Summer conference to a huge reaction, ‘If you all go home and write to the trends, then the vampires win.” How do trends influence you as a publisher?

Nancy: I am fortunate that I work for a company with a lot of imprints and plenty of them are on-point with trends (and hopefully leading some of them!) I am looking for the kind of books that I hope will backlist.   I want picture books that are eye-opening and beautiful; novels with memorable characters who have hope in their lives.


Lee: Vampires, we hear, are on the wane… Trends or no trends, would you publish an amazing vampire book right now? (And no, I don't have one for you, I'm just asking.)

Nancy: I never say never… but man, it would have to be SO original and good…


Lee: Is there something you are looking for?

Nancy: I would love to find some wonderful middle-grade novels.  I love writing that is lyrical and powerful (ala Jacqueline Woodson).  Writers whose stories are full of heart.  I would love to see more culturally diverse stories; and I am a fan of good historical fiction.


Lee: The authors and illustrators you’re working with (among them Tomie dePaola, David Ezra Stein, and Jacqueline Woodson) have quite a range of tones and voices.  Do you have a working definition of voice you can share with us?

Nancy: All of the writers I publish work hard at their craft.  They all have unique voices and are willing to go through as many drafts as needed to bring their work to the best place.  All of them are amazing storytellers – and their stories are not written to order. They come from some miraculous place inside them, so they feel authentic.  The emotions are palpable; the dialogue is natural.  You get pulled into their stories immediately.  If only there was a formula for this!  But I think the best thing a new writer can do is read a lot to see what distinguishes great writing; and stay curious and open to the wonder of daily life.


Lee: I love that, "curious and open to the wonder of daily life."  Great advice.  What do you read for fun?  Or can you still read for fun?

Nancy: I have a stack of books I hope to read over the holidays including two adult books -- "The Grief of Others" by Leah Hager Cohen and "Blue Monday" by Nicci French (which is set in London and I am a big Anglophile!)  I always love to read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" over the holidays.


Lee: For attendees, the SCBWI Winter conference is full of amazing networking, crucial information from experts, craft, business, inspiration, community, and opportunities to move our careers forward. What’s exciting for you about coming to the conference?

Nancy: I particularly love looking at the portfolios of new artists. Last year I saw You Byen’s work and I have her signed up for her first picture book – DREAM FRIENDS, which will come out Spring 2013.  Our art director, Cecilia Yung, also mentored Eliza Wheeler, and we now have her signed up for her first picture book.


Lee: Exciting! It's great to hear those SCBWI success stories. Words of wisdom for attendees?

Nancy: Listen to the advice of the editors.  Keep moving forward.  If you are not getting a positive response on one story, write another.  And read, read, read.


Lee: Can you share with us the best advice you ever received regarding your career in children's publishing?

Nancy: I think it is to remember that there will always be a need for great stories. No matter how they are delivered, people will want to read books that make them think and make them feel. So I think my job as an editor is to stay focused on that. There are great writers out there and there are avid readers and we want to connect the two.

Thank you so much, Nancy.  I can't wait for your Saturday presentation!

You can still register to see Nancy yourself and experience the entire Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, January 27-29, 2012.

Hope to see you there.

Namaste,
Lee



Monday, December 12, 2011

Announcing the Spring 2012 Grant Program for Lee Wind’s Speaker Visits



Budgets are tight.

But the need is dramatic.

And the impact of my programs is powerful.

"I just went out to my friends and told them I'm not going to use the word 'faggot' or 'bitch' anymore."
- Palisades Charter High School Student

"I will remember the part when you said that people need to know more than one thing about a person to then know all about them.  Your presentation will help me throughout my life."
- Brentwood 6th Grade Student

"It was amazing to have you come to Pali and speak to our students.  I think you made a huge contribution to uplifting our campus culture.
- Jill Barker, Palisades Charter High School Counselor

Most Valuable thing I learned from the workshop:
"You're not a stereotype. You are you!"
- High School attendee at my Models of Pride 19 Smashing Stereotypes Workshop

"Thanks for doing this for our school."
- Corvallis High School Student



I’m delighted to announce ten grants of $500.00 each to help bring me out to your school or library for a full day of either

SAFE SPACE: Ending Anti-Gay bullying in our Culture… and in YOUR School Assemblies

or

SMASHING STEREOTYPES In-Class Workshops

With one of these grants, it will cost only $500.00 for me to come to your school or library this Spring 2012 and help energize your community to end Anti-Gay - and all - bullying and smash the stereotypes that hold us back… as a culture and as individuals.



How to apply:
Have your GSA Advisor, school counselor, parent, librarian, or other adult point person contact me via email: iamleewind (at) gmail (dot) com.
Tell me (in their words or yours, in a couple of sentences) about your school, and why you feel my speaker visit would help make a difference in your community.
We’ll need to schedule the visit between January 16 and May 31, 2012.
If you’re not driving distance from Los Angeles, you’ll have to cover my travel and hotel, but that’s billed at cost.

And that’s it.
The first ten schools who need the financial help, apply for it, and schedule me, get these grants!

So see if you can make it happen for your school.


I’d love to come help you make things better, starting right now!

Namaste,
Lee

ps - To see more of what I do in my speaker visits, here's a link to two different nine minute videos showing highlights of both my SAFE SPACE assemblies and my SMASHING STEREOTYPES workshops!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The "Publishing Queer" Panel at BentCon 2011

ComicCon in San Diego sounds incredible, and they always have some great programming that focuses on GLBTQ Comics and Graphic Novels.

For the second year, BentCon (held this past weekend) was a Comics Convention that's ALL about queer comics, and they reprised one of the most amazing panels from this year's ComicCon,

Publishing Queer: Marketing and Creating Queer Comic Books And Graphic Novels

I had the remarkable experience of not only attending but getting to record (as a last minute thing, and on my cell phone video camera!) this panel on December 4 in Los Angeles.  With the permission of all the amazing participants, I'm sharing their discussion here.

This is a still image of the panel (the videos are below.)

The panelists were, from left to right, Tony Valenzuela (lambdaliterary.org), Robert Fraser (classcomics.com), Alex Woolfson (Yaoi911.com), Steve MacIsaac (SteveMacIsaac.com), Charles "Zan" Christensen (prismcomics.org and northwestpress.com) and the panel moderator, Justin Hall (allthumbspress.com).  
 
There were so many great things discussed, and tons of quotable moments - here are just a few:
“Self publishing is so easy and cheap now, it’s the easiest and cheapest it’s ever been, and it became that way just as the infrastructure that will allow you to do that successfully collapsed.”

-  Steve MacIsaac
“The ‘freemium model’ where you’re giving content away for free, with then perhaps offering something extra for money.”

- Alex Woolfson
The panel included an excellent discussion on the future of independent bookstores, Canadian/U.S.A. border shenanigans, the importance of a niche and a following, and lots of great advice for how to make it work as writers, artists, self-publishers and business people.

One of the questions in the Q&A that sparked the best discussion was What’s the best way to start publishing your own stuff?  Every panelist had lots of suggestions, from big-picture considerations to specific tips, strategies and tools - like how to make your comic books print all the way to the edge of the page!

And I think Justin summed up the feel of the discussion, and BentCon as a whole, when he said:

“One of the wonderful things about the comic book community is that it’s extremely small and kind of insular but it’s really supportive...”

And Zan followed up with

“We’re not competing with each other, and that’s the wonderful thing about it.  We know that when one of us succeeds, it peaks interest and people start to say ‘well what else is there?’”

I could see that spirit from the panel. You can see it, too.  Here is the full panel discussion, in six parts:

Part One



Part Two



Part Three



Part Four



Part Five



Part Six, conclusion






There you go, Great Panel.  Wonderful Information.  

My thanks to Tony, Robert, Alex, Steve, Zan and Justin.

I’m so glad I got to attend, and I’m thrilled I get to share it now with all of you!

Namaste,
Lee



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Renfred's Masquerade: A Gay Teen Fantasy Romance




By Hayden Thorne

It's a world of magic.

Impossible dreams.

Masquerades.

And unrequited love.

Torn from his family and thrust into that world, 16 year old Nicola, a boy with a disability who thought he had to stop dreaming, has to solve the mystery of another teen's disappearance before time runs out. 


Add your review of Renfred's Masquerade in comments!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gender 101, Episode #18: Being Trans Enough

Continuing my discussions with my gender queer friend Lucy, we explore Lucy's experiences with being seen in different circumstances as being either too trans or not trans enough.



Thanks, Lucy.


This will be the last Gender 101 episode for 2011.  Look for the videos to start up again in Spring 2012!

Namaste,
Lee

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A New Approach To Win Gay Marriage

This is so beautiful.

And powerful.


Watch it.





Now check out the op ed over at advocate.com about why this two minute video is being seen as something that's changing hearts and minds, and going viral, internationally. Seems there's this thought that we gay people want to get married so we can cash in on all the great rights and bonuses of marriage. Like it's a "special right" we greedy gay people want to get our hands on. And the more we talk about equal rights, the more some people think we want to get in on this great thing straight people have going on... for those rights.

But as this two minute video from Australia's Get Up! shows, we want to get married for the same reasons straight people want to get married.
Because we're in love.

Love is love.

And to my husband - I love you. Thanks for sharing this with me - dang it, you made me cry. Happy tears. And, you made me think. Another reason I love you.

And for all my readers, this is food for thought, isn't it?

In fact, it's a great opportunity to be a Keyboard Activist. Let's share this video far and wide!

Namaste,
Lee

Monday, December 5, 2011

Are You Gay Enough To Play Ball? Inclusion, Exclusion, and the idea of Gay-Only Sports

So get this.  There's a North America Gay Amateur Athlete Alliance, and they put on the Gay Softball World Series. But not everyone on the teams has to be gay.  Turns out, they have rules about how many gay players each team is allowed.

In 2008, the second place team was disqualified because it was found that they had more than two heterosexual players on their team.

The players sued, saying that they "had been discriminated against because they were bisexual, not gay."

And to make matters more unsettling, five of the team's players were brought before a committee of 25 people and made to answer questions about their sexuality. The panel found three of the men to be straight, and

"The men said they weren't given the option of stating outright that they were bisexual, even though the organization considered bisexual players to be gay for roster purposes. They and their team were disqualified. One observer at the hearing commented, "This is not a bisexual World Series. This is a gay World Series."

Well it was just announced that the organization settled with the players,

"Since the lawsuit was filed [by The National Center For Lesbian Rights], NAGAAA has added language to its rules clarifying that bisexual and transgender players are fully welcomed participants in its events. As part of the settlement, the organization said disqualifying D2 was not consistent with its goal of welcoming bisexual players."

And the team has had their second place finish re-instated, and the players can get back on the field.




This brings up so much to discuss: It's a good thing to promote a "message that openly gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals can thrive in competitive sports." But on the other hand, if straight guys are good enough allies that they're happy to play in a gay league, shouldn't that be a good thing, too?

And beyond baseball, should non-queer allies be allowed to participate in "queer" spaces? Should there be exclusionary spaces within the GLBTQ community? Does it make it seem "safer?" And as a broader question for our culture, should we have "us-only" spaces at all, or should all "us" spaces be "us and allies?"

It's almost as if we imagined that Gay-Straight Alliances were Gay Student Alliances instead.

What would happen if we didn't include our allies?

And how are bisexuals treated, both outside and inside the queer community?

Let me know what you think.

Namaste,
Lee


ps: Thanks to my awesome husband for sharing this with me, so I could share it with all of you!

pps:  You can find out more in this article in the Bay Area Reporter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Good News From Major League Baseball (And The National Football League)





This is very good news.


Article XV, Section A of MLB’s expiring Basic Agreement, in effect from 2006-2011, states: “The provisions of this Agreement shall be applied to all Players covered by this Agreement without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

In the new agreement, the words “sexual orientation” were added to Article XV. Michael Weiner, the union’s executive director, said that the decision was not motivated by requests from his membership, but by “the lawyers on both sides just recognizing that it should be there.”


On the we-still-have-a-long-way-to-go side, there's the rookie relief pitcher hazing-by-wearing-pink going on in Major League Baseball, and some players on the Mets saying privately in the aftermath of the legalization of gay marriage in New York that they would be uncomfortable with an out gay player on their team.

“Most of us are still Neanderthals,” one Met explained.


And on the other, we're-making-progress side, other Mets players said they would be comfortable with an out gay player on their team.  A number of the teams have created "It Gets Better" videos and are recognizing their GLBTQ fans. Add to that the whole league has now added sexual orientation to their non-discrimination clause and it really is a huge step forward. The article also says that

The National Football League also included “sexual orientation” in its CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] this year.

So while Billy Bean, featured in the article's photo, came out as gay after he retired from baseball, and we still don't have an out gay player - this is one more important step towards queer equality and making our world a better place.

And that gives me hope that one day - hopefully soon - we'll get there. These sports will include gender identity protection as well, and we'll have our queer Jackie Robinson moment.

And I'll be there, cheering them on.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives To Suicide For Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws



By Kate Bornstein

"Celebrated transsexual trailblazer Kate Bornstein has, with more humor and spunk than any other, ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it.

Here, Kate bravely and wittily shares personal and unorthodox methods of survival for navigating an often cruel world.  A one-of-a-kind guide to staying alive outside the box, Hello, Cruel World is a much-needed unconventional approach to teenage suicide prevention for marginalized youth who want to stay on the edge, but alive.

Hello, Cruel World features a catalog of 101 Alternatives To Suicide that range from the playful (Moisturize), to the irreverent (Disbelieve the Binary), to the highly controversial (Get Laid.  Please.)  Designed to encourage readers to give themselves permission to unleash their hearts' harmless desires, this book has only one directive: "Don't be mean."  It is this guiding principle that brings its reader on a self-validating journey, which forges wholly new paths toward a resounding decision to choose life.

Tenderly intimate and unapologetically edgy, Kate is the radical role model, the affectionate best friend, and the guiding mentor all in one kind and spirited package."


And I have to share a bit from a great review of this book by Jack Radish:

"Bornstein’s book is the thing that could help all those people sitting in front of their computer screen looking at “It Gets Better” videos and getting hope answer the question, “how can I make it better now???” You would think that all the people orchestrating [the "It Gets Better"] project would want those people to get those answers. But what happens when those answers are weird, dangerous and freaky? What happens when the answer is not that life gets better for depressed queer people when they neatly assimilate into mainstream culture? What happens when the answer is that queer people and trans people and other people who are different can make their lives better by embracing the things that make them freaks and weirdos and outlaws and deviants and say “f[-] you” to mainstream culture that tries to stop us from doing that?" 

Add your review of "Hello Cruel World" in comments!  

And if you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, The Trevor Project's lifeline has people 24/7 on their phone lines.  Call them at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).