Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - A 1700s Gay Teen Romp Through Europe



The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Add your review of "The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue" in comments!

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets - A Nonfiction History Told In Objects That I'm Really Excited About



The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets by Gayle E. Pitman

The Stonewall Riots was a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement. The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects.

In this interview over at the Children's Book Council Diversity Site, Gayle shares the research challenge and how she approached it:

“Researching Stonewall was incredibly difficult, because it’s hard to find accurate and credible information about it unless you know where to look. Fred Sargeant was so helpful in this endeavor. He pointed me towards the Craig Rodwell papers at the New York Public Library and the Foster Gunnison papers at the University of Connecticut library, and even went so far as to advise me on which folders in the collection held specific items. I also combed through archival materials at the New York LGBT Center, the ONE Archives at USC, the Museum of the City of New York, and other places. I interviewed people like Margot Avery, who was ten years old when the riots occurred, and watched them from her apartment building’s fire escape. I read books and watched documentaries. I visited New York City and went to the Stonewall Inn. I explored various sites, including where the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the Village Voice offices, STAR House were originally located. I even walked the route of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March. In order for me to share history authentically, it helps if I can get as close as I can to the experience.” —Gayle E. Pitman

Read the full interview here.

And add your review of "The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets" in comments!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Today: Be a Light For Liberty and Speak Out Against the Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at America's Borders

We must speak up. We must not be bystanders. We must be upstanders.

Stand up with me.

On Friday July 12th, 2019, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps, will bring thousands of people to locations worldwide as well as to concentration camps across the country, into the streets and into their own front yards, to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants.



Raise your voice. #lights4liberty #dontlookaway #endusconcentrationcamps

If you can't attend a protest in person, consider doing this:

At 9pm, please hold a candle and share a moment of silence. Together we will light up the world (and social media) to demand an end to human detention camps.


Find out more at LightsforLiberty.org

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Me Myself & Him - A Gay Teen Lives Two Separate Futures



Me Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or… not.

In an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal—until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist?

With musings on fate, religion, parallel universes, and the best way to eat a cinnamon roll, Me Myself & Him examines how what we consider to be true is really just one part of the much (much) bigger picture.

What's queer about it?

Author Chris Tebbetts explains that the main character (also named Chris) is gay, ”and while the inciting incident of the book is autobiographical, the rest of the book splits into two parallel and fictional outcomes from that same incident (parallel realities, a la “Sliding Doors”).” Author Chris shared further that the story isn't about the main character being gay, but that fictional Chris ”does confront a somewhat autobiographical issue for me—becoming the gay third wheel to his two straight best friends who hook up in their last summer before college.” Author Chris also let us know that fictional Chris does get a romance of his own.

Add your review of "Me Myself & Him" in comments!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah - Twin Teens Throw a High School Graduation Party (With LGBTQ Characters!)



Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends--and now they've prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn't know who's coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well...in rather surprising ways.

In the book, Sam is gay, and there's more LGBTQ goings-on, too.

Add your review of "Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah" in comments!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Learning Seventeen - a Teen Girl Trapped in a Baptist Reform School Falls For a Gorgeous Bad Girl



Learning Seventeen by Brooke Carter

New Hope Academy, or, as seventeen-year-old Jane Learning likes to call it, No Hope, is a Baptist reform school where Jane is currently being held captive.

Of course, smart, sarcastic Jane has no interest in reforming, failing to see any benefit to pretending to play well with others. But then Hannah shows up, a gorgeous bad girl with fiery hair and an even stormier disposition. She shows Jane how to live a full and fulfilling life even when the world tells you you're wrong, and how to believe in a future outside the "prison" walls. Jane soon learns, though, that Hannah is quietly battling some demons of her own.

Add your reviews of "Learning Seventeen" in comments!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I'm Quoted In The Philadelphia Inquirer!

It's a wonderful article by Abbey White, Why LGBTQ bookstores, such as Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room, are a lifeline for queer teens.




It speaks about the importance of LGBTQ bookstores for teens who need bookstores like Philly's Giovanni's Room as affirming community centers, as safe spaces... and that's where my quote fits in, talking about how the big online retailers aren't concerned with making their spaces safe for Queer people, especially Queer youth. (Which, not incidentally, is what motivated my starting this blog more than twelve years ago!)

You can read the full article here.

On a personal note, this is the newspaper I grew up seeing on the kitchen table every day... so being quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer is particularly exciting.

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

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ruse - a Sci Fi Thriller in a Near-Future Shanghai with a Lesbian Teen Main Character



Ruse by Cindy Pon

In this sequel to Want, the team of teens fighting Jin Corp for a future where everyone—not just the rich—can breathe clean air are back. This time, Lingyi is one of the point of view characters! Here's the official synopsis:

Jason Zhou, his friends, and Daiyu are still recovering from the aftermath of bombing Jin Corp headquarters. But Jin, the ruthless billionaire and Daiyu’s father, is out for blood. When Lingyi goes to Shanghai to help Jany Tsai, a childhood acquaintance in trouble, she doesn’t expect Jin to be involved. And when Jin has Jany murdered and steals the tech she had refused to sell him, Lingyi is the only one who has access to the encrypted info, putting her own life in jeopardy.

Zhou doesn’t hesitate to fly to China to help Iris find Lingyi, even though he’s been estranged from his friends for months. But when Iris tells him he can’t tell Daiyu or trust her, he balks. The reunited group play a treacherous cat and mouse game in the labyrinthine streets of Shanghai, determined on taking back what Jin had stolen.

When Daiyu appears in Shanghai, Zhou is uncertain if it’s to confront him or in support of her father. Jin has proudly announced Daiyu will be by his side for the opening ceremony of Jin Tower, his first “vertical city.” And as hard as Zhou and his friends fight, Jin always gains the upper hand. Is this a game they can survive, much less win?

Add your review of "Ruse" in comments!

Friday, June 28, 2019

ALA Inspiration - Two Librarians Share Their Response to Complaints About Their Library's LGBTQ Pride Displays

I'm back from the American Library Association annual conference in Washington D.C., and one discussion among the more than 600 librarians I met really stands out. (By the way, that number is not an exaggeration, I was working at the IBPA booth on the exhibition floor representing over 260 books from our independent publisher members, and I scanned 606 badges over the four days.)

It was during my give-away of audiobook review copies of my YA novel, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill", for which I had a big diversity rainbow pride flag out on the signing table, rainbow pride flag bookmarks, and a sign about the giveaway with the same pride flag on it as well. I even had a little bust of Abraham Lincoln with some Gay Pride neck jewelry (courtesy of my brother John!) In short, for the times I was at the demo table, I was a lighthouse of LGBTQ inclusion.

And it worked as a lighthouse, drawing interested and allied folks near.

That's me, chatting with interested librarians about the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook at #alaac19


One librarian, Monena, told me about how she had a patron complain about a June pride display in their library. Her response? She thanked the patron for sharing their point of view, and then, "I went and added a dozen books to the display."

Another librarian overheard our conversation, and nodded. She had had a patron complaint about a pride display in one of their branch libraries as well. She smiled as she said, "so this year, we did pride displays in two more libraries."

That's the stuff of true allies.

And it's why I so appreciate and respect librarians!

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

p.s. If you're a librarian, and you want a free review copy of the audiobook of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," simply email me your name along with your library name and location, and I'll send you a copy as well! 

leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com

I'm so excited about the audiobook (narrated by Michael Crouch, who also did the narration for "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda", and with a bonus author interview at the end where the legendary Lesléa Newman interviews me!) You can listen to the first two chapters here.




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm the Headliner for Episode 194 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast: “Five Dollar Bill,” Queer History and YA Lit with Lee Wind!

This is thrilling!


In this extended interview with Jeff Adams, we talk about LGBTQ history, research, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, its inspiration and characters, this blog, and so much more!

Being the featured guest on a podcast I listen to all the time is an amazing way to celebrate LGBTQ Pride!

I hope hearing about the Queer history we discuss is empowering, and that the podcast will be part of your LGBTQ Pride celebrations!

You can listen to the episode now at this link!

I'm very grateful to Jeff and Will for this opportunity to shine like a lighthouse for their listeners.

Enjoy the podcast!

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


Monday, June 24, 2019

Pride in the Window, or Hidden Away In the Back - A Tale Of Two Stores For LGBTQ Pride Month

I recently had two completely different shopping experiences, in the space of ten minutes.

The Kiehl's store, where I went to pick up the grapefruit bodywash that has changed my mind about scented products, had a diversity pride flag shining out from the three-foot tall statue of liberty decal across their front window.

The saleswoman and I chatted about my husband and teenage daughter, and how we all liked their products. She wished me a happy Gay Pride, excitedly telling me that this was the first year Kiehl's was marching in the Los Angeles Pride parade as well as in the New York City Pride parade. As she rang me up, she offered me two sheets of LGBTQ pride stickers, which included the image of Lady Liberty shining her diversity pride flag.

The amazing Kiehl's Diversity LGBTQ Pride Stickers!

I mentioned that the next day was my anniversary - 22 years with my husband - and that I needed to get him a card. Were there any card stores around? She warmly congratulated me on the anniversary, and then suggested I try out the Hallmark store five shops down.

"Hallmark?" I said, dubious. "Are they going to have anything for two guys?" I was thinking of the pretty heteronormative Hallmark brand I knew, the movies, the whole vibe...

She encouraged me to check it out, and I said I would, and I'd let her know if I found anything. Thinking that, when I went back in a month, I'd tell her I had to go somewhere else because Hallmark wasn't going to have anything.

But I was there, and why not try? Walking into the Hallmark store (where I've never shopped before) didn't change any of my preconceived notions. But the saleswoman smiled as I walked in and asked if she could help me find anything.

I said, "Yes, I'm looking for an anniversary card for two men." (Looking back on this, it's interesting that my language obliquely slipped me into the closet. The card I wanted could have been for friends, the way I said it. That damn closet that I spent so many years in and out of, depending on how safe I felt. I guess, in this store, I didn't feel that safe.)

"Oh, we have a box in the back." She replied.

"Huh?" Not my most eloquent reply, but I didn't know what she meant. There were ten aisles of card racks in the store, each stretching back twenty feet, displaying probably thousands of cards. I headed over to the counter where she stood.

"Yes, like our Spanish language cards." She pointed to a cardboard box on the floor behind her. "I'll just go get them."

While I waited, I headed over to the anniversary section, wondering if I could find something sort of gender-neutral (what I usually do in a pinch), but even the animal card couples were the kind where one penguin wore a dress and the other wore a bow tie.

Then she was back, with a cardboard box full of cards. "Here they are," She set them on the counter, and I started to look through it.

It was a goldmine of LGBTQ greeting cards. Cards congratulating two moms on having a baby. Cards for parents whose child had come out to them about being Trans who wanted to say they loved their child still. And yes, cards for two men celebrating their anniversary and their love.

I found a lot of good options in the LGBTQ box of cards at the Hallmark Store


The card I got was awesome - the printed text on the cover reads:

"You're strong and sexy,
sweet and generous,
funny and tender—
everything a man wants
his husband to be."

and it's stamped Hallmark on the back. It's made with recycled paper. I was so impressed!

And yet...

All these cards were hidden in a box in the back.

There was no signage in the store that would let you know the cards were there. You had to ask.

I asked the saleswoman why the cards weren't on display. June is LGBTQ pride month, after all. And she said they had more cards than they had room to display, as if that made perfect sense to her.

As she rang me up, I fought back my anxiety and I suggested that they might want to put out a handful of the LGBTQ cards on their racks, with signage that they had more, and that customers could ask for them. So people would know they were supportive of the queer community. So people would know that they had all these great cards. For people like me and my husband. (There. I'd come out. Take that, you damn closet!)

I asked if she would pass the comment along to whoever made the decisions on display in their store, and she said she would. It was awkward, but I felt good about asking. About being real about who I am. And I was excited about the "Our Anniversary: Man to Man" card I had found.

I left the Hallmark store, and went right back to Kiehl's.

I found the saleswoman who had been so kind, and told her that to my surprise, I had found some great gay cards, but that they'd had to bring them out from the back in a cardboard box.

"Oh," she laughed. "That's what they make us do for the mahogany cards."

I didn't know the term. "Mahogany," She explained. "Cards that show Black people like me."

And it hit me, what that Hallmark store had so wrong. People who spoke Spanish, Black people, Queer people—none of us were represented on the store floor. We weren't part of their vision of their customers. Of their community.

They had our cards in the back, in cardboard boxes.

They would have our cards in stock, they would take our money, but we weren't important enough to represent on the store floor, even with a handful of cards.

The straight, white, cis-gendered folks had all their cards proudly on display. But anyone different was second-class, and had to ask if, maybe, possibly, in the back, there was something for them. For us.

There was no pride in that box of LGBTQ cards being hidden away.

I hope that Hallmark store changes their approach. Hallmark is making cards for Spanish speakers. They're making cards for and featuring Black people. They're making cards for those of us in the LGBTQ community.

Now they need to put those cards out on display, so they proudly tell everyone—including their straight, white, cis-gendered customers—that celebrating diversity is part of who they are, too.

Because right now, I'll proudly continue to shop at Kiehl's. But I'll think twice before shopping at Hallmark again.

Be you, with Pride!

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




Friday, June 21, 2019

Librarian Friends! Come Say "Hi" At ALA2019

Hello Librarian friends!

If you're going to be in Washington D.C. for the American Library Association's 2019 annual conference, please swing by the Independent Book Publishers Association booth #1145 where I'll be working, helping to represent the more than 260 books from IBPA's publisher members.

We'll have signings and book giveaways throughout the conference weekend, including me on Saturday June 22, 2019 at 3:30pm and on Sunday June 23, 2019 at Noon!

I'll be giving away free review copies of the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook—narrated by Michael Crouch (who also narrated the "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" audiobook), and with a bonus author interview at the end by "Heather Has Two Mommies" author Lesléa Newman!

Listen to the first two chapters of the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook for free here.
Visit me at the IBPA booth #1145 to get the full audiobook review copy emailed to you.

It's always a wonderful show, and I hope I'll get to see you.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Exciting News: "The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?" Lives On... With a New Publisher, Lerner!

It's official!

The book contract is signed, and the deal was announced yesterday in Publishers Weekly!


The deal announcement reads:
Hallie Warshaw at Lerner/Zest has acquired “I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?” blogger Lee Wind's debut middle grade nonfiction book, The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay? The book reveals the surprising and often hidden true stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Publication is set for fall 2020; Marietta Zacker at Gallt & Zacker did the deal for world rights.

I'm excited, and grateful, and want to believe more than anything that this time, my LGBTQ history book that would have totally changed my life had I read it when I was a closeted 11 and 12 and 13 and 14 year old, really will come out and reach readers and change lives for the better!

Really, it would have changed everything had I read it as a closeted 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 22 and 23 and 24 and 25 year old, too. I was in the closet for so long! "The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?" would have changed my life—for the better. It would have helped me be more authentic, sooner. It would have let me know that I was not alone.

Because if we know there were men who loved men in history, and women who loved women in history, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history, then we'll know we are not alone. We'll know we deserve a place at the table today.

And knowing we have a place at the table today empowers us to imagine a limitless future.

And that's what I want for all the young people—the ones we were, and the ones today.

This book is for them. For you. And yeah, for me, too.

And I can't wait! Dammit, I'm actually tearing up as I write this. Because there are moments in your life that transcend you. When you know you're doing something epic, something groundbreaking. Something that will change our world for the better—even in a small way. But that's how most change starts. And for me, that's this moment.

Thank you to my new and honest and smart and wonderful agent, Marietta Zacker.

Thank you to this book's new publisher at Lerner/Zest Books, Hallie Warshaw, and my editor Ashley Kuehl, and the whole Lerner team for believing in me and this project.

Thank you to my husband, and daughter, for loving me whether or not I have a book deal.

Thank you to my family and friends for cheering me on.

And thank you, my community, for all your support and encouragement on this crazy, crazy adventure in publishing.

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

Monday, June 17, 2019

Order Signed Copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" From Pages A Bookstore!

I'm thrilled to announce that Pages A Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, California, will be carrying signed copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and they're happy to mail them to you!

Me, outside the independent Pages A Bookstore


You can order signed copies online at their website here, or call them at 310-318-0900.

Ten minutes from my day job at IBPA, Pages A Bookstore has become my local bookstore, and they're awesome. They even have a pretty amazing LGBTQ Pride month display up—a whole table-worth of great reads—and I'm so excited that Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill is being welcomed to their carefully curated collection!

Here I am, holding a copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" in front of their LGBTQ Pride Month Display!


Order your signed copy from Pages A Bookstore today!

My thanks to Kristin, Casey, and the whole Pages A Bookstore team!

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

I'm Featured In The Lead Story at Books Make A Difference!

This month's headline article is Power and Progress: Diverse Stories, Authentic Voices by Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito.

Wow - there's "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," among some of my favorite LGBTQ titles for kids and teens!

I'm honored to be included, not just with a generous shout-out to "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," but also with numerous quotes from my interview with Karen, covering why diversity in books for kids and teens is important, the difference between archetypes and characters, some of my favorite LGBTQ reads for youth, and so much more!

Hey, that's me! Talking to some of the teens who received the crowdfunded donated copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" at Camp Brave Trails.

The article also features Hannah Ehrlich, marketing and publicity director at Lee & Low Books, and T.S. Ferguson, editor at Jimmy Patterson Books. They're both smart and articulate, and I'm delighted to be in their company.

Some stand-out quotes:

“When we see someone like ourselves in books, it’s powerfully validating,” says Lee Wind, author of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill. At the same time, “When we step into someone else’s shoes through the magic of reading, and they’re different from us in some way (different gender, or racial background, or ability, or religion, or affective orientation) it helps us have a level of empathy and understanding we didn’t have before we knew them through the book.” —Me!

Hannah challenges fellow publishers and editors to recognize they are all gatekeepers and to approach that authority with responsibility. “Books have power,” she says. “And we choose the books.” —Hannah

“And you should be reading multiple books by multiple authors within those communities, because just like in your own communities, not everyone is the same and one perspective is not going to give you a fully formed idea of what these communities are like. You’re not going to read The Hate U Give and fully understand the black experience, for example. You need to be well-read.” —T.S.


Head over to read the full article here at booksmakeadifference.com - it's a great piece!

I'm grateful to Karen for writing it and including me, and to you, my community, for this opportunity to share.

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

Lee