Monday, April 22, 2019

WANT - A Science Fiction Thriller In a Near-Future Taipei That Includes Queer Teen Secondary Characters

Want by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO.

Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

I loved this book (listened to the audiobook.) I'll be on a panel with Cindy at the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival in May, and was so excited about how the future she created included queer characters!

Add your review of "Want" in comments!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Picture Us In The Light - A Gay Artist (Who's a High School Senior and Asian) Unravels His Family's Secrets

Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

This book was honored with a Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children's and Young Adult Literature Award Honor! Add your review of "Picture Us In The Light" in comments!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

6 of the Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018 on the ALA List Were Challenged Because They Included LGBTQ Characters and Themes

You know what we're fighting for? Inclusion. Equity. Respect. Celebration.

#1 on the ALA List of Most Challenged Books of 2018:
“George,” by Alex Gino
Reason: for including a transgender character

This is a lovely book, about a 3rd grader who wants to play Charlotte in the class play of Charlotte's web.

#2 “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by E. G. Keller
Reasons: for LGBTQIA+ content, political and religious viewpoints

The only one of these six I haven't yet read. Moving to the top of my list now.

#3 “Captain Underpants” series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: for including a same-sex couple, perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior

I cheered when, in the 12th book in this beloved series, the heroes visited their future selves and one of them was married to another man! (And George and Harold are still best friends.)

#5 “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ characters and themes

A wonderful middle grade graphic novel that included gay middle schoolers!

#10 “This Day in June,” by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content

A picture book about an LGBTQ Pride Parade and celebration!

#11 “Two Boys Kissing,” by David Levithan
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content

A YA novel based on true events, of two teen boys aiming to set a new Guinness World Record.

My editorial thoughts;

Really, if adults don't like a specific book, they can make the choice to not share that book with their own children. But when they start to say that a book isn't right for ANY child, that it should be removed from a library's collection, then they've gone too far.

Children need these books that include Queer characters and themes. Yes, the LGBTQ kids and teens. And the heterosexual and cis-gendered kids and teens, too. Because every child needs to know that LGBTQ people are part of our world. And if we queer people aren't in the books kids and teens can find in the library, that just makes them feel alone, unwanted, and ashamed of being their authentic selves. It makes them afraid.

I know.

There were no books with positive portrayals of LGBTQ people when I was growing up. And that was how I felt.

That more than half of the books on the ALA's Most Challenged (a.k.a. Banned) Books list for 2018 were challenged because of their queer content tells us a lot about how far we still have to go as a society, especially with political leaders who foment hatred and fear of the 'other' -- including against LGBTQ people. Especially with so many people feeling emboldened to voice and act on their bigotry.

We need to stand up.

Shine our light.

And reflect the light of others. So let's read these books. Talk about these books. Buy these books. Ask for them from our libraries.

And let's aim for the day when we don't have books that get challenged. Until then, we resist. Together.

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Five Highlights and Four Photos from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2019

Let's start with photos!

The panel I moderated, at the signing tent. (Left to right): Brendan Reichs, Ally Condie, Carlos Hernandez, me (!), and Quinn Sosna-Spear
I got to sign copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" that folks purchased!

I was also asked to sign a canvas bag and someone's hand (all of the panelists signed both)!

My name! My books! At the festival!!! (so cool.)

Some quotes from our panel that are still resonating:

5. "Friends help you reveal part of yourself, and become a better version of yourself." —Carlos Hernandez

4. "Characters are collections of motivations." —Brendan Reichs

Some quotes from another YA panel I attended that jumped up to be written down:

3. "Good reviews are like crack. Bad review are like poison. Neither help you." —advice Jennifer Nielsen passed along.

2. "What I can control is the page." I need to write what I want to say. —Dhonielle Clayton


1. most of all, moderating a wonderful panel.

What a great day! Thanks to my panelists Quinn, Carlos, Brendan, Ally, and to all the organizers and volunteers and staff behind pulling off the amazing 2019 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Come See Me (and some famous authors) at The LA Times Festival of Books, This Saturday April 13, 2019 at Noon)

I'll be moderating the middle grade fantasy panel, Middle Grade Fiction: Magic and Mysteries with Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (about their book "The Darkdeep," Carlos Hernandez (about their book "Sal and Gabi Break the Universe") and Quinn Sosna-Spear (about their book "The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson.")

Here's our panel description from the festival schedule:
From mysterious islands to for-real magicians to unusual contraptions, these books stretch kids' imaginations. Join the authors for a conversation on their fantastical middle grade books "The Darkdeep," "Sal and Gabi Break the Universe" and "The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson."

I'm really looking forward to this -- we're going to have a great conversation! And if you'll be there, swing by the YA Stage and join us!

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

SCBWI-IL Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation With Susanne Fairfax (Event Video Recording and My Thanks!)

What an amazing event!

From the plate of cookies with my book cover on them!

to Susanne Fairfax's careful reading and wonderful questions about Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill,

from the crowd of wonderfully engaged people that showed up (an actual crowd!)

to selling out all the copies of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill that Open Book had,

from the warm welcome of the SCBWI Illinois team, especially Co-Regional Advisor Deborah Topolski, Assistant Regional Advisor Jennifer Wagh, Illustrator Coordinator Cedric Gliane, Diversity committee members Susanne Fairfax (the same amazing Susanne is also the Chair of the Diversity Committee), Urania Smith and Jacqueline Alcántara, and Diversity Network Representative Donna Beasley)

to signing books both for those attending and books purchased to donate to LGBTQ and allied teens in Chicago...

it was all just wonderful.

And, for everyone (especially the teens) who couldn't attend, we recorded the interview and Q&A on video, and you can watch it here:

If you'd like to order a signed copy of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill for either yourself or to donate to LGBTQ and Allied teens in Chicago, you can do so here.

Jenny surprised me with a "Illinois: Land of Lincoln" shirt - love it! It's perfect for my #QueerHistoryIsEverywhere instagram project!

With enormous gratitude,

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

p.s. - check out all the diversity initiatives of SCBWI-Illinois. They're doing great things!

A close-up view of one awesome cookie!

Monday, April 8, 2019

See You Tonight (April 8, 2019) 7pm at Open Books West Loop

I hope you'll join me at SCBWI-Illinois Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation at Open Books West Loop, from 7-9pm.

I'll be interviewed by SCBWI-Illinois' Diversity Committee chairperson Susanne Fairfax, and SCBWI-IL will also announce the winners of their 2019 Diverse New Member Pathway and Many Voices Prizes.

You can pick up a signed copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and/or buy a copy to donate to Chicago-area LGBTQ and allied teens.

I can't wait!

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story - A Bi Teen Tries To Believe He, Too, Can Have A Rom-Com Worthy Romance

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

Add your review of "This is Kind of an Epic Love Story" in comments!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What If It’s Us - Two Gay Teens Meet In New York City... Does The Universe Have Romance In Mind?

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

Add your review of "What If It’s Us" in comments!

Monday, April 1, 2019

I'm Coming To Chicago! (With a Book Event On April 8, 2019!)

It's a big week ahead...

First, for my day job, I'll be in Chicago April 4-7 for the Independent Book Publishers Association's (IBPA's) Publishing University 2019, the premiere educational and networking event for indie publishing,

and then on Monday April 8 I'll be at SCBWI-Illinois Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation at Open Books West Loop, from 7-9pm.

It's a free event, and you can get tickets here.

I'll be interviewed by SCBWI-Illinois' Diversity Committee chairperson Susanne Fairfax, and SCBWI-IL will also announce the winners of their 2019 Diverse New Member Pathway and Many Voices Prizes.

You can pick up a signed copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and/or buy a copy to donate to Chicago-area LGBTQ and allied teens.

It's going to be an amazing evening, and if you're in the Chicago area, I hope you can join us!

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

p.s. - no April Fools on this one - I really will be in Chicago for these events!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Bunnybear - A Picture Book About Being Your Authentic Self (And Finding Your Place In The World) That I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was A Little Kid

Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney, Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña

Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and in his heart he's fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear. The other bears don't understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

From the moment Bunnybear sees the group of bunnies and I read the line,

“They were tiny, and fluffy, and bouncy, like Bunnybear's heart.” 

This picturebook captured my heart.

The wonderful Bunnybear

Bunnybear's story is told with such love, and respect.

This book is a powerful way to let gender-expansive, gender non-conforming, and transgender children know that they are not alone, and that there is a loving place for them in the larger community.

And this book is also so important for cis-gendered children (and adults!) to help them recognize that not everyone who looks like they are a specific gender really is a person who identifies with that gender. Just like Bunnybear looks like a bear, but feels like a bunny on the inside. And Grizzlybun looks like a bunny, but feels like a bear on the inside.

I'm excited for Grizzlybun to have a story of their own someday. And until then, I'm so grateful that Bunnybear is here for all of us to read and share...

Bunnybear was included on the ALA's 2018 Rainbow List! You can add your review of "Bunnybear" in comments!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and Machado's "Traveler, your footprints" - Two Poems in Conversation

This idea of these two poems being in conversation was shared by Emma Otheguy at #KidLitCon2019, and it's still resonating for me.

Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," that ends with the lines,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And Antonio Machado's "Traveler, your footprints," that so eloquently contrasts with these lines,

Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship's wake on the sea.

Frost's poem is the classic I learned about in school here in America, but I so prefer Machado's perspective on life. There are more than two paths. There are infinite paths, and our steps make them, like "wake[s] upon the sea."

Here's those final two lines of Machado's poem in their original Spanish,

Caminante, no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar."

I find this vision so encouraging, and inspiring. Click the links above to read both poems in their entirety.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Highlights of #KidLitCon2019

What an awesome weekend! It was great seeing friends (tried and true and new) and being immersed in this wonderful community of authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, and children's and teen book bloggers!

Some of the moments still resonating for me:

My panel, Reaching Readers: Getting Your Book To Kids was a blast!

Left to Right: Anika Denise, Barbara Fisch, Me(!), Debbie Kovacs, and Josh Funk

We played games (the one-minute timed elevator pitches were fun—and well-received),  spoke about strategies, working with publishers and bookstores, online communities, the importance of planning ahead and making checklists, and supporting others. (And, in a humbling moment, I learned to be more careful with my language.)

The session ended with Anika reminding us all of balance, and how while we have to spend time getting our books to kids, it's also important to make time to write the next book. It was a really wonderful panel!

The many moments of inspiration and insight, some of which were captured by myself and others on twitter. Here are 17 of them:

children of color become "experts in whiteness" while children of the dominant (read: white) culture know nothing about their peers of color. - at

"Magic is about power... Spirituality and belief systems are also about power." Zetta Elliott talks respect and subverting expectations on the "Diverse Fantasy in the Real World" at

"So many different parts of my life are in the book, in a kaleidoscope way." -Ann Bradley at

“Tell the story as true as possible.”

“You have to tell children, ‘you can walk your self out of ANYTHING.’” - @kidlitprov

"We all deserve to be part of the conversation."

"What if queerness in picture books was as ubiquitous as red hair?" stories centered on red hair, and stories just about them being kids. "Every kid is the hero of their own story." - at

"Kids want to read what other kids recommend." Melissa Fox at , with Ms. Yingling and Sam Musher

"Write the thing that's gonna get you up in the morning and keep you up late at night." -

"You find a way out. Where is that way to get to hope? Find that one crack so that kids know that somehow, there is gonna be a way through." -

"I wanted my writing to get the best of my day." on getting an early (as in 4:15am) start to his creative work.

"Goofy enthusiasm" - shares her most important ingredient in getting books to kids at

"This is my year of convincing myself that character IS plot... how they react to things is plot." -Leslie Connor at

"to survive in school... I learned that I had to put away my Latinx identity." speaks of what motivated her to become the proud Latinx author she is today.

Sharing hope w readers is key. -

“I hear people say, ‘We’d love to have your books in our school, but we don’t have any black kids.’ That’s EXACTLY why you *need* them!” - at

“To me all division ends when the story rings true” on &

The chance to share about my own Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, how it is the story of my heart, and even sign copies purchased by wonderful people!

Gratitude to Charlotte and all the other volunteer organizers, and to Katie at Barrington Books!

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