Friday, August 14, 2020

All-American Boys - A Gay Teen Love Story With a Happy/Hopeful Ending From Back in 1983

All American Boys by Frank Mosca

Neil Meilish has known that he was gay since he was 13 but so far he's told no one including his father and brother. Folks at school only know him as the guy who's got a black belt in kung fu, or as the guy who races pigeons.

But when Paul Carrington's family moves into town things change. The boys have a connection that's too intense to deny and soon Neil and Paul are in love but find that their families and schoolmates have trouble accepting a gay relationship.

Here's the back-cover copy:

"I've known I was gay since I was thirteen.
Does that surprise you? It didn't me.
According to one of the lousy books I read back then, I'm supposed to tell you it came as some sort of huge shock that sent me into fits of suicidal depression. Actually, it wsas the most natural thing in the world. I thought everyone was. At least until I hit high school the next year. That's when I finally realized all those faggot and dyke stories referred to people like me...
So begins All-American Boys, the story of a teen-age love affair that should have been simple – but wasn't."

It seems long out of print (from the old Alyson Publications) but I'm so intrigued by this book that came out when I was teen. If only I'd found it back then. Fascinated to read it now...

Add your review of "All-American Boys" in comments.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

All Boys Aren't Blue - A Memoir-Manifesto for Teens by journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson

All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, calling it, "A critical, captivating, merciful mirror for growing up black and queer today." Add your review of "All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto" in comments!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Civil Rights Leader John Lewis Wrote This Essay Just a Few Days Before His Death. It was Published in the New York Times on the Day of His Funeral.

This essay by John Lewis is so brilliant, and inspiring.

The stand out line for me:

"When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act..."

The context of that quote:

"Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it."

And then the call to action:

"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe."

Read the full piece – It's well-worth it. And then let's stand up, together.

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

Friday, August 7, 2020

My Highlights From #SCBWISummerSpec

Hello community!

I'm still flying high from the first-ever virtual iteration of the SCBWI Summer Conference – after 48 years of meeting in person. (I haven't been going for 48 years. I started 16 years ago.)

Amazingly, the virtual version delivered so much, and moments like the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Social that I hosted gave me a taste of the community aspect that I was missing. (More on that in another post soon.)

I was really inspired by Susie Ghahremani's summing-it-all-up tweet, and so here's mine. Certainly not as visually pretty, but packed with the moments that inspired and/or resonated for me:

Philip Pullman explaining the best piece of advice he's been given was from Raymond Chandler, 'When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun.' That solves every problem. Meaning, "Add a character who you the writer weren’t expecting." So when he was trying to solve the problem of the opening scene of The Golden Compass he needed someone for Lyra to talk to. And then he described writing and having Lyra’s daemon appear. “What’s a daemon?” he wondered. “I wrote the rest of the 1,100 pages to find out.”

"Do you know any writer who isn't incredibly insecure?" – Judy Blume

“There’s a fine line between artistic genius and self-doubt.” – Kwame Alexander on how “you can’t let other people define your worth, your creative value.”

"There is a purpose for me in this space." –Jason Reynolds on why he keeps going in an industry that is so challenging.

"Every single type of writing is poetry. ...all of it to me is poetry." Jason Reynolds

Raúl the Third on Muhammad Ali being the "greatest" - "Not because he was better than anyone else, but because no one was greater than him." Raúl wasn't a boxer, but he thought, "If I focus on these drawings, maybe I can become a champion."

"Books are amusement parks. Kids have to choose the ride." – Kwame Alexander

Jill Santopolo talking about the heart-message being either explicit or implicit, and explaining that for the children's classic Goodnight Moon, the heart message is "everything is as it should be, and it's safe to go to sleep."

Dan Santat speaking about picture books, "16 sentences that tell a story beginning to end."

LeUyen Pham on illustrating picture books, "Not drawing what is written – interpreting what's written." She's only interested in illustrating a writer's text "if there's something left of the story to tell."

Jon Klassen (in another conversation) agreed, “I would get bored if my job was just decorating.”

“We’re making art for kids…Art is just a conversation. You’re saying something to a living breathing person on the other end. Be clear. Be interesting. Say things of value to them, the audience.” – Mac Barnett

Nic Stone advising "Separate selfhood from work."

“Books don’t have to have a happy ending. As long as there’s hope in the narrative… it can be complete.” – Jacqueline Woodson

Lori Snyder, telling the story of Gandhi's response to a brash young reporter who asked him what was his message to the world: "My life is my message."

Grace Lin on an idea being a picture book or a novel: "I know it's a picture book when the pictures are going to tell another story." Two stories, one told by words, one told by pictures.

Laurie Halse Anderson explaining that the first draft is figuring out "what I want to write." And then the second draft is taking the "beautiful mess" of that first draft and applying her craft. "Beautiful mess" is such a better metaphor than 'shitty first draft.'

"I just kept building on every tiny success until it snowballed." – Meg Medina

"We deserve to tell our readers the truth, offered in a responsible and loving way." – Laurie Halse Anderson

Jeff Kinney writing 700 jokes, then taking it down to the best 200, and then writing the book AROUND those.

"Write what you know, write who you are, and it is like a magnet." – Henry Winkler

"The eye and the ear are different listeners." – Jane Yolen, on having someone else read your manuscript out loud to you as part of your revision process.

and maybe most of all, feeling In Community, with more than 150 people showing up for the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Social on Zoom.

Giant THANK YOUS to the whole SCBWI Team Blog this time round, who made all the Official SCBWI Conference Blog postings and live-tweets possible! Thank you, Jaime, Jolie, Don, Leah, Mike, Susie, Bingham, Olugbemisola, and Gaby!

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Ship We Built - An #OwnVoices Trans Middle Grade Novel Where Letters Sent Out To The Universe Feel Like the Only Way Rowan Can Be Real

The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean

Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know.

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn't want anyone he knows to read them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it's not safe for others to find out. Now the kids at school say Rowan's too different to spend time with. He's not the "right kind" of girl, and he's not the "right kind" of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he's not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it's like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

Add your review of "The Ship We Built" in comments!

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


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,

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.


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.


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,

*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,

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,