Monday, November 18, 2019

Cursed - a Teen Girl Fights the Pain of a Chronic Illness Amid Her Parents' Divorce and an Unfriendly New School (but she has an awesome Lesbian sister)



Cursed By Karol Ruth Silverstein

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.
Normally, a sister or best-friend being Queer (and wonderful) isn't my first choice to spotlight on this blog, but Cursed is exceptional in so many ways.

It's powerful – an #OwnVoices YA about chronic illness - chronic pain - and it's real in a way afternoon specials never were.

It's thoughtful in the whole exploration of Ricky's cursing, and while there are plenty of curse words used in the novel, it really gets into the power of words as both a coping mechanism, and a tool (for both bad and good.)

It's hopeful in a real way -- there's no miracle 'cure' and the character knows this. That's part of what's so difficult for her, but it's a part of the book that makes it practically sing to those of us who have had chronic illnesses for which we were told there was no cure. (It's painful. It's shitty. It's completely out of your control but you have to be a teenager and deal with both challenges at the same time.)

It resonates with our shared humanity - I didn't have what Ricky (or the author, my friend Karol) had, but when I was 13, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (painful. shitty, completely out of my control...) I've read a lot of YA and middle grade, but this is the first time that part of me felt seen. Heard.

It's retroactive, but this book healed my inner teen a bit.

The one who would have loved this book so much.

And hey, just like Ricky, I had an awesome queer sibling, too. (But I didn't know that for years to come.)

But this isn't about me, it's about Cursed. An amazing novel by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein.

It was even a Junior Library Guild selection! I can't recommend it highly enough.

Add your review of "Cursed" in comments!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Final Draft - 18-year-old Fat, Pansexual, Ecuadorian-American Laila Tries To Figure Out How To Be a Great Writer... and How To Live



Final Draft By Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories. But just before her graduation, Laila’s creative writing teacher and number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing. A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval leads to a series of unexpected adventures. With her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

Add your review of "Final Draft" in comments!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best At It - A Middle Grade novel about a Brown, Gay, and Anxious Boy Dealing With Seventh Grade in Small Town Indiana


Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Interviewed in CBC Diversity's October 2019 newsletter about this, his debut middle grade novel, Maulik said:

“I read so many books as a kid, but I never, ever saw brown or gay characters in the stories I read. I could have used that kind of representation. It would have been very validating, very powerful, as a child to have been able to see my own experience reflected back in a book. So, a big inspiration was the fact that I believe there’s a need for diverse books for young people that address intersectionality. Kids are so much more than one thing. I happened to be brown and gay and dealing with some anxiety…and I hope that sharing my story offers “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” to so many young people.”

The novel has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Add your review of "The Best at It" in comments!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Here's a Theory: The Statue of Liberty is... a Man!

Well, based on a man.

So the assumption has always been that the French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, modeled Lady Liberty off his mother. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a different theory, as reported in "Secrets of America’s Favorite Places", and told to the New York Post:
“As I was looking at it more carefully, the structure of the face isn’t really the same. [His mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … and was known for his accuracy,” Mitchell tells The Post.

“Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

Here's a close-up view of a copy of Lady Liberty's face, from the museum under the statue:


And here's a photo of Frédéric's brother, Jean-Charles:


So why would it even matter?

The Statue of Liberty is still iconic, based on a woman or a man. Still amazing. Still a beacon of hope for what America stands for.

But, knowing “Lady Liberty” may actually be the likeness of a beloved young man adds a lovely LGBTQ hue to the oxyidized copper green-blue statue's welcome to America.

Should we think of her as a man in drag? Pride.com suggests she might be a drag queen. The wonderful Peter Tatchell Foundation asks, in their Oct 24, 2019 newsletter where I first read about this, "Is the Statue of Liberty a giant drag queen? Could it be based on a Frenchman called Jean Charles Bartholdi? Well, 'Lady Liberty' is a great drag name!"

At the very least, if she's really based on Jean-Charles, it's pretty gender non-conforming!

Queer history really is everywhere.

Giuseppe Milo [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Hold up your torch, Lady Liberty, and be proud of who you are—no matter who you're based on.

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


Friday, November 8, 2019

The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers - Young Readers Will Love The Magic & Mystery (And Oliver's Best Friends in 3rd Grade, Twins Teenie and Bea, have Two Dads!)



The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn

Eight-year-old Oliver dreams of being a professional magician, even though he has terrible stage fright. And now, his friends Teenie and Bea have gotten him invited to a classmate's birthday party as the paid entertainment! Desperate for help, he visits The Great Zoocheeni's Magic Emporium, but comes away with nothing more than a moth-eaten top hat.

Oliver is in for a lucky surprise, though. Inside that top hat hides a wisecracking rabbit named Benny, who agrees to help Oliver with his act. But at the party, Oliver is accused of robbery! He'll need to solve the mystery of the missing robo-cat to clear his name before he and Benny can amaze the crowd with their grand finale.

Pseudonymous Bosch is the "infamously anonymous" New York Times bestselling author (of the Secret Series) and very nice guy who may or may not be "the alter ego of Raphael Simon, a totally unrelated author who lives in Pasadena, California, with his husband and twin daughters."

"The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers" even has a magic trick for the chapter book's readers to learn at the end! Add your review in comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride - a Lovely Picture Book About Rainbows, and Our Rainbow Families, for Ages 3 and Up



Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Anne Passchier

"A sweet ode to rainbow families, and an affirming display of a parent's love for their child and a child's love for their parents. With bright colors and joyful families, this book celebrates LGBTQ+ pride and reveals the colorful meaning behind each rainbow stripe. Readers will celebrate the life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit that the rainbows in this book will bring."

Michael has written something simple and powerful, and Anne's illustrations are inclusive of many kinds of LGBTQ families, made up of many colors and types of people. Especially love the two dads kissing as they push their child in a stroller in the final celebratory spread.


This is definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!

Add your review of "Rainbow: A First Book of Pride" in comments!

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community, here's the latest!



Watch the under-four-minutes video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here: https://youtu.be/ljtia5QvFN4

Transcript:

Hi Community, It’s November 2019, I’m Lee Wind, and this is my Video Newsletter, that's all about informing, updating, and hopefully inspiring YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

Robert Indiana is this famous POP artist who came up with the famous LOVE statue, you know, with the letters in a stack with the "O" on a slant? It's everywhere, all over the world. There's one in Israel, there's one in Washington, D.C. that's in Italian, there's one in the city I grew up in, Philadelphia, there's one at the college I went to, University of Pennsylvania, there's one in New York, they're all over the world, there was even a postage stamp!

And it's really exciting, because today, I learned that Robert Indiana was gay! In the 1960s, he had a relationship with another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, and it's just really cool that this icon of love that I've grown up with, this pop art thing that's been so popular, and loved by so many people, was from a gay artist. Queer history really is everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

Some months, it’s just about doing the work, and November is that kind of month.

Linda Sue Park taught me this great technique, it's called a 12 minute writing sprint, I set the timer on my phone for 12 minutes, and I tell myself I just have to focus for that much time. And I do it every day. Some days I'm able to do more than 12 minutes, if I'm on a roll, I'll hit the timer to do again, another 12 minutes, and another 12 minutes, but some days all I have is 12 minutes. But you know, piece by piece, day by day, I'm building the new novel, and I'm really excited about it!

Readers Say

Andrea @stargirlriots, is a reader in Cape Town, South Africa, and they tweeted on Oct 27th,

“I just finished the audiobook of Queer as a Five Dollar Bill by @LeeWind and !!!!!! (6 exclamation points) I have never reacted to a book SO much! I’d be “exactly! Thank you!!!” Talking back, eyebrows f-ing raised while I “yah! But—“ All. The. Way. Through. 10/10 recommend!"

Thanks, Andrea! I love that you loved the book, and I love that it's being read, and listened to, on the other side of the world. And when it reaches readers, and it effects them like that, that's what it's all about.

Events

I had a great time at Models of Pride - there were over 1,400 LGBTQ and Allied teens there. I had a great session where we talked all about discovering LGBTQ history, and one of the attendees, a teenager, even sketched me!

I've been interviewed for a new podcast called “The Premise” which is all about the story behind the storytellers. I'm really excited, it's a brand-new podcast, I've very grateful to Jennifer Thompson and her husband Chad who had me on, and I'm looking forward to that launching in the next couple of months – I'll let you know.

Also, Nov 21 coming up, I'll be moderating a panel at my local high school of their pride project GSA group and I'm really looking forward to that!

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, I’m really enjoying…

Wayward Son

It's the follow-up to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is sort of a gay Harry Potter book, but this time Baz, and Simon, and Agatha, and Penelope are all in America… And there's a road trip, and you don't know where it's going at first, but man, it builds up and gets really exciting, and I can't recommend it enough.

Inspiration

“Stories are truer than true. There's a quote from Neil Gaiman's Coraline: ‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ We absorb that, and it makes the next dragon a little more survivable.”

I love that. It's from A.J. Hackwith, a queer writer of science fiction and fantasy, author of The Library of the Unwritten, who was interviewed in Shelf Awareness Oct 25, 2019.

Thanks A.J., and thank you, Neil!

Want more? Check out I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at leewind.org

Until then, the light in me recognizes the light in all of you.

Thanks!

***

Thanks to the team at lgbthistorymonth.org for including Robert Indiana in their Icons of LGBTQ history this past November. They're a great resource for learning more about our Queer History!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Matthew Shepard's Parents Speak Out Against This Adminstration's (and Department of Justice's) Hypocrisy



As reported in the Advocate by Trudy Ring,

"We find it interesting and hypocritical that he would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees.

“Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals from hate crimes. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy." —Judy and Dennis Shepard


It's refreshing and wonderful when people do the right thing.

Yeah, appearing with the current administration officials at this anniversary event would have drawn media attention to their mission of making the world a better place for LGBTQ people... but it would have used the Shepards as window-dressing, helping the administration continue to pretend they care about our equality while at the same time actively opposing it.

I'm really proud of Judy and Dennis.

I hope their standing proud for what's true and right inspires many others to do the same.

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

p.s. - shout out to my husband Mark who shared this with me, so I could share it with all of you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Ghetto Goddess Series: Brew, Keeper, and Incarnate - a Trans Teen Witch (and her Mother) Find Themselves in the Middle of a Conspiracy



Brew by Dane Figueroa Edidi

Arjana Rambeau, a trans teenager from Baltimore, carries many secrets, one of which is she is a witch. Beginning to start a new school, she finds herself at the center of an unwarranted conspiracy. As she makes new friends, while attempting to maintain her old ones, she must learn how to distinguish who she can trust, because it seems everyone wants a piece of her and her growing powers.

Bembe Rambeau is a mystery, infamous amongst the magical community, she has very few friends but a collection of enemies; enemies, who seem to be attempting to remove not only her allies but her daughter as well; threatening both her small empire and family’s legacy. Bembe must now combat shifting loyalties while crafting an alliance with an enemy who she once wished dead.

Brew follows the lives of a mother and daughter, one who thinks she knows everything and another discovering what she knew isn’t true at all.


Keeper

Arjana Rambeau and Candace Jones are best friends. Born in the heart of Baltimore, both teenagers’ lives have taken drastically different turns. As a secret society of witches gathers, and the Brotherhood of Winter returns, each one of the friends finds themselves in a fight for their lives.

Bembe Rambaeu, and Moni Oshun are powerful witches, but as their collective past returns to haunt them each woman must band together to discover the chilling secret of the legendary GodSlayer, but will what they find be their salvation or their undoing…

Victoria Rambaeu, a former zombie, and an infamous assassin witch, returns to Baltimore much to the displeasure of anyone who has had the misfortune to cross her path. As an ancient lover comes to exact revenge, she must contend with the children she abandoned and the destruction she left behind.

Keeper is the second book in the Ghetto Goddess series and follows a coven of witches and their allies who must do battle with past choices for a future that may destroy their very souls.

Incarnate

When Arjana Rambeau started Magic School, she could never imagine the perils she would have to face. As an old adversary rises and the Brotherhood of Winter exacts revenge, she, her best friend Candace, and her allies must prepare themselves for war.

Bembe Rambeau is trapped in the clutches of a powerful being. As the Heavens mourn and the Underworld rages, new Gods rise to answer the prayers of humanity but peace may only come at the expense of destroying everything the one they call The Savior Of Witches holds dear.

The death of a powerful Witch leaves a power vacuum that shakes the foundation of the magical community, as enemies mount, Marquita Jones and Moni Oshun must team up to protect the legacies of their dead friend.

Incarnate is Book III of the Ghetto Goddess Series and follows a family of Witches and their allies as they fight to protect the universe and survive a devastating Spiritual War.

Gratitude to Rah Froemming-Carter's HALLOWQUEEN: A QUEER HORROR ROUNDUP over at BookRiot where I found out about these titles! Add your review of "Brew," "Keeper", and/or "Incarnate" in comments!

Monday, October 28, 2019

I'm Speaking Tonight in Culver City, California, on a panel about Book Publicity and Marketing

**UPDATE: 10/28/19 1:00 PM Pacific

Because of the fires in Los Angeles, this event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.**




Wearing my day-job hat as the director of marketing and programming for the nonprofit Independent Book Publishers Association, I'll be on a panel for the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) / Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA):
Publicity Panel — Seeing 2020 Book Publicity More Clearly
Moderated by Steven Sanchez (Vice President, Independent Writers Of Southern California), my fellow panelists include: Emanuela Cariolagian (Senior Public Relations & Transformation Strategist); Kathleen Kaiser (President, Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network); and Desireé Duffy (Founder of Black Château.)

You can find all the details here.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Unbinding of Mary Reade - A YA novel "based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny"



The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Add your review of "The Unbinding of Mary Reade" in comments!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wayward Son - the follow-up to Rainbow Rowell's awesome answer to our 'Gay Harry Potter' wishes, "Carry On"



Wayward Son (Simon Snow Series #2) by Rainbow Rowell

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

I'm so excited about this sequel to Carry On! Add your review of "Wayward Son" in comments!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Highlights from Models of Pride 2019



I'm just back from Models of Pride 2019, and I'm so delighted to have once again presented a workshop in the youth track. There were more than 1,500 LGBTQ and Allied young people there, and every seat was filled in my Queer History is Everywhere session!




Some highlights for me:

1) The genuine excitement in the room - these young people wanted to be there, they wanted to learn about our LGBTQ history - and that made me excited to share with them!

2) The literal mouth-open jaw drop in surprise that I saw twice!

3) The many kind words of thanks shared with me by the young attendees after my session.

4) The happy rush of 'no way, we're getting a copy of his book?' when I shared the final crowdfunded copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" with the volunteers who read different primary source materials off the handout.



5) The gift of being sketched by a teen who didn't know me, but drew me sharing my enthusiasm and doing my best to empower these LGBTQ and Allied teens with the same information and stories and history that has empowered me!



6) Seeing the wonderful Jessica, Jake, and the Camp Brave Trails crew at the lunchtime resource fair!


7) Having my teenager attend Models of Pride, too!

Our world can be such a frustrating place, with the pace of change not fast enough, and with negative people and energy taking power and trying to undo the drive towards equality and equity and diversity and not just tolerance, or acceptance, but celebration of others...

But there are moments when I think about how far our world has come--Models of Pride is in its 27th year, and it's huge, and important, and while I didn't have it when I was a teen, I'm so glad it's here now.

And that progress gives me hope. And that's a beautiful thing.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

White Rabbit - A YA Murder Mystery


White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get worse, right?

Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister’s name . . . or die trying.

Add your review of "White Rabbit" in comments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Stone Rainbow - A YA novel where love and prejudice collide in a small town



The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw

A continuation of Jack's story from Caterpillars Can't Swim.

Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she's been doing her best to be understanding, it's obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay.

Complications go into overdrive when a new student named Benjamin arrives at his high school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he's never allowed himself before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes it's time to stop hiding and to stand up--for Pride, for Benjamin, and for himself.

Add your review of "The Stone Rainbow" in comments!