Monday, August 3, 2020

You Brought Me the Ocean - A Gay Teen Coming-Out Romance and Origin Story for Aqualad (A Graphic Novel from DC Comics!)



You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez, illustrated by Julie Maroh

Jake Hyde doesn't swim--not since his dad drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, in the middle of the desert. Yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to go to college on the coast. But leaving home would mean parting from his best friend Maria, who wants to stay and protect the desert, and breaking from his mom, who encourages him to play it safe.

But there's nothing "safe" about Jake's future--not when he's attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when Jake secretly applies to the University of Miami. And those aren't the biggest of Jake's secrets, which include the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water.

What power will Jake find when searching for the truth of his identity, and will he accept the consequences of coming out--in more ways than one--to his mom, Maria, and the world?

I am ridiculously, silly excited about this one. Add your review of "You Brought Me The Ocean" in comments!

Friday, July 31, 2020

My Listical Introducing Myself for the 2020 SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular #SCBWISummerSpec

As the lead of SCBWI Team Blog, I'll be heading up the live blogging and tweeting from the virtual conference floor for the 2020 SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular, which starts TODAY!!! Here's the post I shared on the official SCBWI Conference Blog, 3 Things About Me (Lee Wind). Well, YOU. Okay, Us. And the 2020 SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular

I don't have a photo of you, but here's one of me from this week.

1. I love this community, of children's book creators. Writers, Illustrators. And the industry folks, editors, agents, art directors, marketing and PR peeps, librarians, booksellers, really, everyone who is passionate about books for children and teens. I love the community because I'm part of the community. And I became part of the community, really, the first time I attended an SCBWI event. I'm a writer by dint of my writing. And I'm a member of this community by dint of claiming a spot in the community. You can claim a spot, too. Just be being here, reading this blog. Attending virtual SCBWI events, like this SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular. And working at your own craft. We've saved a space for you.

2. I have a voice. It took me a long time to find it, in life, and in my art. (Words are my medium.) I started out writing picture books about frogs and princesses and manners. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it wasn't the story of my heart. (Thank you, Esther Hershenhorn!) And now I'm telling those heart-driven stories. My blog I'M HERE. I'M QUEER. WHAT THE HELL DO I READ? has been a great way to figure out what I want to say and how to best say it. I'm even doing video newsletters! My crowd-funded debut YA Novel, QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL, is about Wyatt, a closeted teen, who triggers a backlash when he outs Abraham Lincoln. (It was a Publishers Weekly Indie Success Story. And Foreword Reviews said it “Will change the way young readers look at history…”) My Middle Grade Nonfiction book is due out from Zest/Lerner in April 2021, and it's called NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? HIDDEN LIVES AND SECRET LOVES. And I have a picture book (not formally announced yet) coming out in the Fall of 2021 that's an empowering story for kids about social justice. Here's the thing: You have a voice, too. Take the time to develop it. And then share it with the world. We want to hear it. Kids and teens need to hear it.

3. I'm aiming for this long weekend conference to be spectacular. Yes, it's online, and meeting in person is so much more, well... personable. But this virtual incarnation is so much more accessible. Like having 10 team bloggers this time around, everyone doing a little bit so no one gets completely zoomed out. (Shout out here to Jaime, Jolie, Don, Leah, Mike, Susie, Bingham, Olugbemisola, and Gaby! Make sure to check out their introduction posts here at the scbwi conference blog, too.) I get to listen, and learn from some of the giants in our industry, having conversations with each other. LeUyen Pham and Dan Santat talking about visual storytelling? I'm there. A fantasy deep dive with Philip Pullman and Arthur Levine? Can't wait! And of course, the LGBTQIA and Allies Social, happening Monday August 3, 2020 at 5pm Pacific in a safe space zoom that I'll be hosting with special guests! Whether you're following along on twitter and elsewhere with the conference hashtag

#SCBWISummerSpec

or you're jumping into every big zoom conversation live (or watching the recordings later), whether you're grabbing time to be creative in between sessions, or enjoying some of the live virtual yoga "interludes" led by my friend Lori Snyder, you can make this conference experience just what YOU need it to be for you. And that sounds pretty spectacular, doesn't it?

Here's to a wonderful conference ahead, all!

Stay safe,
Lee

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The July/August 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter



Click here or above to watch the July/August 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter.

Transcript

Hi, Community! I'm Lee Wind, and this is the Summer of 2020. And everything continues to not go as planned. It's the end of July, so this is going to be the July/August newsletter, and I'm not going to do anything I planned to do, because I just read this article in the New York Times that I have to speak to. [Links below]

So it turns out there's this senate race in Georgia, and the Republican candidate took a photo of his Jewish, Democratic rival, and they enlarged the nose to make it, I guess the guy, seem more Jewish. And they ran it on Facebook. And they were caught at it. And they're being accused of this anti-semitic trope. And it's crazy that in 2020 we're still facing this kind of ridiculousness.

And this is to take nothing away from all the challenges of people of color and Black people in our country especially. But I have to speak to this. Because it's an insight for me into how much we internalize the hatred in our country and this sense of "other."

So when I was a kid, not only was I a closeted Gay kid, but I hated myself. I had so many things that I didn't like about myself. And I had this horrible mantra that I would repeat every day, hundreds of times a day: "I'm ugly. I'm stupid. I have a big nose."

This wasn't coming from a vacuum. This was coming from a culture that told me that being demonstrably Jewish in that way was a terrible thing. And while I don't think it was a conscious thing on my part, I focused on that. It was this focal point of my self-hate.

And when I graduated high school, the thing I asked my parents for was a nose job. So this nose, that I have, which I like, and is fine, is actually just a scaled-down version of my previous nose. And for years I was closeted about that, too. Like I didn't want anybody to know. Because I thought it made me seem super vain. And, I am a little vain.

But what's so crazy is that, fast-forward, I came out, and I started to love myself. And the nose job helped a little bit, it helped me break that cycle, that idea that "I'm ugly, I'm stupid, I have a big nose." Wait a minute, I don't have a big nose anymore. So maybe I'm not ugly. And maybe I'm not stupid. And I went to really good colleges, and I have a masters degree from Harvard, I'm not a dumb guy. But it took me so long to unlearn that self-hate and try to approach myself with a sense of self-love.

So fast-forward to meeting the man who is now my husband, and we were on our third date or something, and we're out at a restaurant, and this guy walks by, and Mark literally stops talking and stares, and he's like, "Wow. That guy's so handsome."

And I was like, "Okay, tell me more. Why do you think he's so handsome?"

And he was like, "Wow, it's just like, he has such a prominent nose!"

And I just started laughing. (laughs)

So it turns out my husband thinks that guys with really strong prominent noses is a super sexy, super cool thing. And I had done everything in my power to have a more 'normal' nose, a more 'normative' nose.

I love that story, because everything I thought would prevent me from being loved – being Gay, having a big nose – turned out wasn't true. I could have found love. My husband probably would have been happier if I had my original nose!

But I'm bringing it up because in our world... It's like those movies that start out, "In a world where..." Well, we're living in that world. We're living in a pandemic. We're living in a completely racist society where only now people are starting to realize that, "oh, well if I'm not Black, maybe I need to try to work to be anti-racist." Yes! Yes! We do. We all do.

In a world where anti-semitic ads, where politicians are enlarging noses of their Jewish competition to discredit them, to make people hate them. The statistics on anti-semitism, on anti-semitic acts of violence and hate, are actually higher than they've been in the last 40 years!

This is this pivot point, this inflection point in our world, in our culture. and I want the teens that are watching this, and the people that care for teens to know, we have to get to a place where we can embrace and celebrate the differences within ourselves and in others - because that's how - we stand up for each other – and that's how we shift the world.

So it's not a normal video newsletter, but these aren't normal times. There's a lot of cool things going on that I'm really excited about. I did a really cool podcast interview where we were talking about Jewish kid lit and LGBTQ kid lit. The SCBWI conference is coming up and I'm really excited about that, it's all virtual. There's a lot going on, and a lot of it's good.

But in the midst of everything, I needed to take this time, and just speak from the heart. Because I want kids today to have what I didn't have: Which is a sense of safety and security to be themselves, their authentic selves. And that is also what I wish for you.

All right. Until next time, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.
'Bye.

***
Links

The New York Times article, Georgia Senator Is Criticized for Ad Enlarging Jewish Opponent's Nose

The Anti-Defamation League’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2019 states that “In 2019, ADL tabulated 2,107 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 12% increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018 and marks the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.”

The Book of Life Podcast Where Heidi Rabinowitz and I Interview Each Other About Jewish Kidlit and LGBTQIA2+ Kidlit

The SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular conference information is here. I'll be leading SCBWI Team Blog coverage here.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Black Flamingo - A Novel in Verse About a Mixed-Race Gay Teen In London Who Discovers Drag



The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta



Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he's navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican--but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael's coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs--and the Black Flamingo is born.

This book won the Stonewall Book Award! Add your review of "The Black Flamingo" in comments.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Mx. Sam Smith Speaks About Coming Out As Nonbinary with ALOK in OUT Magazine

One of the amazing photos from the article.

The Out100 Evolution of the Year: Mx. Sam Smith article was really great, and fascinating, and made me want to cheer on Sam even more!

Note: S is for Sam, and A is for ALOK. Here's a brief highlight:

S: In changing my pronouns, I felt incredible freedom. It’s like a brick was lifted off my chest, and with that freedom comes another kind of pain. Feeling this free in our skin is answered with abuse. And that’s really hard. For the last year and a half*, I’ve thought about changing my pronouns. I’ve always hid behind my “he, him” pronouns because I was too scared. I thought living a life playing pretend would be less painful than being authentic. But I’d rather be myself, even if it means being abused for it. I’d rather get all this shit for being myself than lie to myself. That’s not a way to live.

A: There’s something here about what it means to be an artist: If you don’t access this truth, then you’re not able to make creative work for yourself. It becomes for other people.

S: I don’t think you can sing, write music, or make art without having an open heart. There was something blocking me when I was writing my last album because I felt like I was playing this “Sam Smith” character that I created. I was depressed because I was this person in suits who other people wanted me to be. I can wear a suit now, actually, and can feel completely different in the suit, but at the time I felt, I’ve got to be butch for other people. I feel my music suffered. I think people can hear that. As soon as I came out with “Promises” and “Dancing With a Stranger,” I started playing. I started having fun. I started being myself. My art has become truer and more honest after coming to peace with being nonbinary.

Read the full, inspiring interview here.

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

*The article was published in November 2019 - and I'm happy to share it with you now!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Drama Queens in the House - 16 Year Old Jessie Discovers Her Father's Cheating on Her Mother with Another Guy



Drama Queens in the House by Julie Williams

Sixteen-year-old Jessie Jasper Lewis doesn't remember a time in her life when she wasn't surrounded by method actors, bright spotlights, and feather boas. Her parents started the Jumble Players Theater together, and theater is the glue that holds her crazy family together. But when she discovers that her father's cheating on her mother with a man, Jessie feels like her world is toppling over. And on top of everything else, she has to deal with a delusional aunt who is predicting the end of the world. Jessie certainly doesn't feel ready to be center stage in the production that is her family. But where does she belong in all of this chaos?

Add your review of "Drama Queens in the House" in comments!

Monday, July 20, 2020

SCBWI's Statement in Support of Trans Members, Youth, and Adults

This made me so proud to be a member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators:


From SCBWI's Instagram Feed

“ SCBWI strives to provide a safe space for all creators of content for children. Today, we specifically choose to unequivocally acknowledge that Trans youth, their families and Trans creators are an important part of our organization whose stories must be told. We choose to support your truth. As a nonprofit that supports creative people everywhere, we value the contributions that Trans people have added to the story of our human family everywhere around the world. Your stories matter. You matter to us. As always, SCBWI welcomes you. #TransLivesMatter ”

July 9, 2020, as posted to SCBWI's social media, as well as the SCBWI website here.

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

Friday, July 17, 2020

Birthday - Two Teen Best Friends Share a Birthday - One's Trans, The Other Doesn't Know, and They're Falling In Love



Birthday by Meredith Russo

The stars align when two very different kids, Morgan and Eric, are born in the same hospital on the same day, setting into motion a series of events that’ll shape who they are and who they’re destined to become. They’re best friends who will come together, drift apart, kiss, fall in love, and ultimately, discover how much fate has in store for them.

What's queer about it? Morgan is Trans.

Add your review of "Birthday" in comments!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Whispers - A Middle Grade Boy Crushes on Another Boy While His Mom Has Disappeared. He Hopes The Secret Fairy World of "The Whispers" Can Fix it All



The Whispers by Greg Howard

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the Whispers, magical wood creatures that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago and Riley is determined to find her. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to look for the Whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn't realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in for forever.

Add your review of "The Whispers" in comments!

Monday, July 13, 2020

#KidLitForMasks - Grab Something Good To Read, and If You're Out in Public, Wear a Mask - #MasksSaveLives

That's me, smiling behind my facemask, posing with my own "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" YA novel. 
You can learn more about the #KidLitForMasks movement here.

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

Friday, July 10, 2020

You Should See Me In A Crown - Liz Needs The Scholarship that Comes with Being Prom Royalty, But She Might be Falling for Her Biggest Competition



You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Add your review of "You Should See Me In a Crown" in comments!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

New Affiliate Relationship with Bookshop.org - A great way to buy LGBTQ kid and teen books online AND support Indie Bookstores AND support Lee and this blog

I'm really excited about starting as an affiliate with Bookshop.org. I love that they're a B-corporation, meaning they see success as a business as more than just making money - they're also looking at the impact they have on society!

And they, like me, believe indie bookstores are community hubs that should be supported.

So, as an alternative to the dominant online marketplace, Bookshop has launched in just the past few months with a model that supports indie bookstores in two ways. The first, individual bookstores can make 30% of the cover price if someone buys from their online store. And the second, an affiliate program where 10% of the purchase goes into a pool of money that is then distributed by shares to all indie bookstores (even the ones who don't have stores on Bookshop!) For those affiliate sales, there's also 10% that goes to the affiliate (in this case, to me to help run this blog), and 10% to bookshop to help them keep it all running.

It's an exciting new model, and already, since their launch earlier this year, they've raised over $4.8 million for indie bookstores here in the U.S.!

Official disclosure: As of July 5, 2020, if you click on a book here on this blog and it takes you to bookshop.org, there is an affiliate relationship in place where 10% of that book order will come back to me, Lee Wind. I hope that works for you. And if it doesn't, no worries. I hope you buy your books somewhere that feels good to you. Thanks!

Here's the bookshop.org link for MY book: Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill,





And here's what this blog's bookshop.org store page looks like, with lists of LGBTQ Teen Books and LGBTQ Middle Grade Books that were featured on this blog in 2020.



You can also search for books on bookshop.org here:





What a cool way for online book shopping to help keep indie bookstores strong community centers!

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

Monday, July 6, 2020

I'll Be Part of UCLA Extension's Online YA Symposium: The Young And The Reckless: Writing For Teens - August 29 - September 5, 2020

I'm really honored to be one of "today’s most exciting YA writers" in this program!


I'll be doing two breakout sessions with my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein, one "Checking Privilege at the Door," and the other "Creating Complex Characters."

I'll also be part of a panel discussion with Sherri L. Smith, Aminah Mae Safi, and Cindy Lin:

From Desire to Draft: Writing Your First Novel
Once you have your great idea, you need to put words on paper to render the world, characters, and events you’ve imagined. How do you go from an idea to a story? What different techniques can you use to bring your story to life? Writers on this panel will discuss how they completed their first draft, how they approached revision, and how they knew they were ready to send the book out to agents and editors.

You can find all the details and register here.

Thanks for letting me share,

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

Friday, July 3, 2020

Listen to this Book of Life Podcast Where Heidi Rabinowitz and I Interview Each Other About Jewish Kidlit and LGBTQIA2+ Kidlit



I loved this discussion, and was so honored to partner with Heidi as part of the Through the Window diversity exchange.

Here's the description of that program:

Through the Window is a diversity exchange created by the Association of Jewish Libraries to fight antisemitism and other forms of bias through education and allyship. Jewish organizations swap content with other marginalized communities to give both groups a look through the window at our common humanity.

I'm also really delighted that Heidi created an opportunity for us to "use our privilege constructively to boost Black voices," and we've both done so with some recommendations of powerful works by Black creators, which starts the episode off.

Listen to the podcast here, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Camp - A Queer Teen Hides His True Self To Get The Guy... But is it worth it if he loses himself in the process?



Camp by L.C. Rosen

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim — who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ — buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself: How much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

Add your review of "Camp" in comments!