Friday, August 29, 2008

First Day Of School Jitters, Opportunities, and Queers!

Ahhh, the end of summer, fall's in the air, and it's the start of the new school year!

So for everyone who's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and/or Straight and really great, here's some thoughts for that first day of school:

First Day Jitters

EVERYONE is nervous. No, I mean that. EVERYONE. Not everyone shows it. Or admits it. But everyone wants it to go well. To have friends. To have fun. To not be made fun of.

Trust me. From the Top Jock to the Drama Club stagehands, from the Math wiz to the kids with trouble reading, from the principals to the teachers to the bus drivers, EVERYONE is a little bit nervous about the first day of school.

so look - if you're a little nervous - you already fit in!

Every Day Opportunities

Don't let all the adult-focus on grades fool you. School is really only about 1/3 about academics. And yeah, they're important, and do your best, but recognize that in addition to what your learn in class, there are two other huge parts of school that make up the whole pie.

Sure, it's nice to know algebra for the tests, but what's really important is to learn HOW to learn, so when you forget that Pythagorian theorum, you can go back and re-learn it when you need to. And you'll never remember all those dates - but you need to know how to find them when you need them.

Another 1/3 of the equation of school is figuring out how to navigate relationships, interact with other kids and with teachers. Learning how to work and play with other kids your age. Choosing who you'll have lunch with. Play with at recess. Hang with in homeroom. Do that project with. This is HUGE stuff - but not maybe in the way you think.

Just like with academics, once you're out of school and off in college or in the "real world," it ends up being completely UNIMPORTANT who your friends were in high school or junior high school. What's important is that you were learning skills and practicing HOW to make friends. How to recognize people who don't have your best interests at heart. How to interact with peers and adults... Now, that isn't to say that you might not still have some great friends from elementary school at your 80th birthday party, it's just to remind you that if you don't, it's okay... You'll make LOTS of friends throughout your life. Some will stay with you. Others won't. More will always come along.

Figuring Out You

The final 1/3 of school is maybe the most important. You can think of yourself as an adventurer, on an amazing journey throughout school and life, to discover the secrets of...


School is an amazing buffet of opportunities, chances to explore so many different things. For each one, you can ask yourself - does this resonate? Do I want to learn more about this? Practice and get better at this?
What fascinates you?
What do you love to lose yourself in?
It it a particular sport?

Your time in school is a gift to get to learn all these things for the future. And most of all, to help you figure out yourself! Grab this time to dig deep and explore the world - and by exploring the world, you'll be discovering yourself.

Queers at School

Okay, part of your identity, part of figuring out yourself, may lead you to recognize that you are part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning community, or you might just realize that you're one of our crucial Straight Allies.

However you identify, it's important for you to know that you are not alone:

According to a 2004 national poll commissioned by GLSEN, approximately 5% of America's high school students identify as lesbian or gay or roughly 3/4 million students nationwide. This percentage would translate to, on average, every classroom in America having at least one student who identifies as lesbian or gay and a majority of students in the classroom knowing at least one gay or lesbian person, whether it be a teacher, a classmate or a family member.

There are organizations to support you,

hotlines to speak with someone who cares,

mentoring programs to give you a leg up,

scholarship programs to help you pay for college, and

peers - potential friends - who share your journey.

Here's a recap of the "coming out" section in the toolbar on the right side of this blogsite:

Coming Out? Check out:

The first listing is a link to one of my musings on National Coming Out Day - Every Day!

The second listing is the Human Rights Campaign's Resource Guide for Coming Out. Click it. Download it. Read it. An excellent overview.

The third, "Brent Says It So Well" will take you to fellow GLBTQ YA author Brent Hartinger's website page where he shares so beautifully about his process of coming out.

The Fourth is a link to the Gay Straight Alliance Network. While this is a California-specific organization, the information they provide is useful for anyone trying to set up a GSA, anywhere.

The Fifth gets you to the homepage of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a non-profit focused on issues of schools being safe places for Teens and Kids in our GLBTQ community.

The next, "GLBTQ Groups/Community Near You," is a link to Queer America, a search engine where you enter in your area code and zip code and you get a list of lots of GLBTQ resources. Very cool information to have.

Next is The Trevor Project. It's a link to their web site, but I've also listed their phone number. (866) 4-U-TREVOR. When you need to talk to someone, it's a national crisis and suicide prevention counseling phone line for GLBTQ Kids, Teens and Young Adults.

The second to last link is to the organization PFLAG. This is an amazing group - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Good stuff for your whole family.

And last, for now, is a link to the Point Foundation, the National LGBT Scholarship Fund. There are still so many stories of kids living in fear that if they come out, they'll be abandoned by their families and that their dreams of going to college or grad school won't come true. Well, the Point Foundation's mission is to give SCHOLARSHIPS to GLBTQ students so they CAN afford to be OUT, be true to themselves, and to get a great education after High School!
They even have a mentoring program!! Okay, I LOVE that these scholarships exist!


There are states and school districts where GLBTQ students are protected from harassment by the law. There are others where we're not protected.

The most important thing is to be Safe and be Smart.

And while you're doing that, enjoy figuring out who you are. Because each of us is a unique and perfect creation - flaws and all.

That's why I end every Lee's Musing with the word "Namaste," because it means "the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you."

So, go have a GREAT first day of school, and an FANTASTIC year of school.

Learn stuff. And learn how to learn.

Make some friends. And learn how to be a friend.

Discover Yourself. And know that We're Here. We're Queer. And We're in School!



Posting will start again on the first day of school for so many of you in the USA - Tuesday Sept 2, 2008! If you're here in the USA, enjoy the long weekend. If you're elsewhere on this big blue planet of ours, have a great weekend, too!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Heart Sense

By K. L. Richardsson

A YA fantasy novel about a gay hero, Katjin, dealing with the ins and outs of a telepathic empire!

Katjin, the only son of a traveling merchant, befriends a wanderer, Mikael. Mikael has not been branded by the Empire (as a 'path or non-'path) and so his presence puts Katjin's whole clan in danger.

So Katjin, along with his cousin Soren, is sent away with Mikael - the cousins think they can solve the problem by a blood bonding ceremony which would make Mikael part of their clan. But danger is stalking them, and now there's no escaping the bonds they've forged.

Can Katjin keep Mikael safe?

"Heart Sense" is K L Richardsson's debut novel!

Add your review of "Heart Sense" in comments!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What They Always Tell Us

By Martin Wilson

Two brothers, James and Alex, have nothing in common except they're both in the same high school in Alabama.

James is a senior, super popular, and straight.

Alex is a junior, an outcast, and gay.

But two shared friends make this the year that everything changes...

It's fun to note that this is a Debut novel by Martin!

Add your review of "What They Always Tell Us" in comments!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lesbian GOLD at the 2008 Bejing Summer Olympics!!!

My celebration continues with applause and role-model admiration for the OUT women who medaled at Bejing!

Shout outs to Natasha Kai for winning GOLD with the US Soccer Team!

(Here's a fun article on her win from her alma mater, the University of Hawai'i)

And Cheers for Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg,
who have a Kiss after they win GOLD for Norway in Handball!

Congratulations as well for our OUT Silver Medalists: lesbian Lauren Lappin and bisexual Vicky Galindo on the USA Softball team!

And hurray for Bronze medalist Linda Bresonik, part of Germany's Soccer team!

So, with Matthew Mitcham, that's 4 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze medal - for 11 athletes.

Our Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Brother and Sisters did VERY well!!!

Congratulations to them, and to us all!



Monday, August 25, 2008


Matthew Diving for GOLD!

Okay, I can't give you the best sports analysis. (Outsports is awesome!)

I can't give you the best sports photos of his dives. (Fox sports has a great photo gallery of Matthew diving, winning, hugging a reporter, hugging his coach, but, unfortunately and not suprisingly... no photo of Matthew hugging his partner!)

I can't even report on Matthew embracing his partner and their both crying for joy after the win. (The Sydney Morning Herald's Jessica Halloran seems to be the only reporter in the mainstream media that talked about Matthew being gay AND winning the gold!)

What I can do is talk about why this win is important. Why we should care.

It's all well and good to root for your countrymen and women, but I've got to say that when it came to the 11 out GLB athletes at this year's Bejing Summer Olympics, for me it was like rooting for my fraternity brothers/sorority sisters. These athletes, these men and women, by virtue of them being OUT and PROUD of who they are, have walked the same path, the same journey in many ways that I have - that many of us have.

And that shared life experience, of growing up in a culture that is largely homophobic, and despite that, being true to yourself and honest about who you are - that forging of character and of spirit in the fire of oppression - a "hazing" or "initiation" of sorts - connects us.

That's not to say that some out gay people aren't jerks, or can't cut you off in traffic.

But there is a common bond, and it's powerful.

That bond explains that while I was happy to watch David Boudia and Thomas Finchum diving for the U.S.A., when Matthew Mitcham of Australia was diving I was really excited - for him, and by extension, for all of us in the GLBTQ and Allies community.

Matthew's being OUT as a gay man, and being the BEST athlete in his sport in the WORLD is pretty heady.

There have been other athletes who have won Olympic gold and then later come out, but Matthew being honest and true and excelling as an athlete at the same time dispels so many myths and rumors.

It PROVES that you can be OUT and it won't ruin your career as an athlete.

It PROVES that you can be true to yourself and still follow your passion for sports.

It PROVES that you can be a gay man, go to the Olympics with your same sex partner, and win GOLD!

Hopefully, Matthew's win will be a beacon for honesty and excellence - what a great combination. And those are truly qualities that all of us could emulate.

What a role model! What a diver! What a fantastic win!

Congratulations, Matthew!

And thank you, for giving Australia, and all of us who appreciate your being out and honest, the GOLD!


Friday, August 22, 2008

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole

I love this book.

Based on the incredibly sweet and true story of a gay male penguin couple (Roy and Silo) at the New York City Central Park Zoo, who bond and build a nest of stones - and try to hatch a pebble. When there's an extra egg that needs a family, the zookeeper gives it to Roy and Silo, and they end up raising the little girl penguin that hatches, Tango.

There are many animal families in the Central Park Zoo, but Tango is the first one to have two Daddies.

"And Tango Makes Three" was the MOST challenged book in the United States of America for the last two years! (A "challenge" is when a parent or other adult protests the inclusion of a book in a library's collection.) And if things like that make you mad as hell, you should check out AS IF: Young Adult Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom whose blog includes some great news and discussions regarding the continuing challenges facing many books today...

As a gay Daddy, I have experienced many times over how "And Tango Makes Three" is a fantastic tool for talking to people about MY family. It's a great starting point for discussing MY daughter having two Daddies, and about how at the end of the day, being a good parent is not about gender. It is about devotion, selflessness, and love.

I love this book. I love reading it to my child. And to have had it read to me when I was a child would have been so wonderful...

Thank you, Justin, Peter, and Henry!

Truly, this book makes me so happy.

Survey: Why do YOU think Bejing's Olympic Closet is SOOOO Big?

Okay, I want to give you all some more time to answer this - there have been some great responses so far, but what can I say? I'm greedy and I want MORE!!! (Umm, please?)

So Click Here to take the Bejing's Olympic-Sized Closet survey!

Don't do it for me. Don't do it for your own country's Olympic Team. Don't even do it for the GLBTQ community...

Do it for HuanHuan!

Thanks in advance,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

King & King & Family

By Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

King Lee and King Bertie are back, and in this book they're off to the jungle for their honeymoon!

The busy illustrations are full of all the animal families they keep seeing throughout their trip, and Lee and Bertie can't shake the sense that they're being mysteriously followed...

When they get home, they find a stow-away in their luggage - a young girl who needs a family! They adopt her, and everyone in the kingdom celebrates as Princess Daisy becomes part of their forever family...

Joyful. Quirky. Sweet.

And how my mind reels at the idea of having had THIS book read to me as a 5 year old... Because in so many ways, as a child and a Teen, I was Prince Lee, and now as an adult I am King Lee, who found my very own King Mark, and I am so blessed to be raising a wonderful daughter!

Happy Endings, and having a FAMILY, can be our stories, too!

Thanks Linda and Stern, for this gift of a book, and for giving us a rare human two dad family in a picturebook!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

King & King

By Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

So many stories for children include the search by a Prince or Princess for their one true love, as the prerequisite for the Happily Ever After...

In this delightful twist, King Lee's true love ends up being King Bertie!

I soooo wish I had had this book read to me when I was 5. Just the knowledge that not every story has to end up with the Noah's Arc boy-girl pairing (like ALL the Disney movies) would have been GIGANTIC!

If "King and King" had been read to me when I was 5, I might have grown up believing that MY story could still end up with a Happily Ever After, even if I wanted my happily ever after to be with another Prince!

Thank you Linda and Stern. This book was so needed and is so necessary.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Family Book

By Todd Parr

Continuing my celebration of picturebooks my inner 5 year old loves, "The Family Book" by Todd Parr is exuberant and inclusive, with bold color-blocked graffiti-esque illustrations and a simple rhythm of statements about how many different ways there are to be a family.

Some families look alike.

Some families look like their pets.

Some families adopt children.

Some families have two mom or two dads.

All families like to hug each other!

"The Family Book" is awesome in springboarding discussions with kids about all kinds of families. It is a goldmine of inclusiveness, and I wish it could be read by everyone!

Thanks, Todd!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mermaids on Parade

By Melanie Hope Greenberg

Quick! Name one picturebook with a transgender character. Or with a joyous depiction of gender non-conformity.

Well, I've got one for you. For me. For us all.

I've decided to start a new category/label for books here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"and it's:

"Picturebooks I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a little Kid!"

"Mermaids On Parade" is a gem of a picturebook, written and illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg. It's about a real-life Mermaid Parade celebrating the start of summer every year at New York's Coney Island.

A little girl gets dressed up like a mermaid, and she and her parents join the parade of all the people dressed up in glittery fantastic outfits.

What I truly love is that in the midst of the carnival atmosphere, there are images of men in dresses and women in mustaches, and it's all just part of the amazingly vibrant fabric of the community - everyone's having a great time, and everyone just accepts the gender non-conformity without batting an illustrated eye!

Note the guy in the goatee, mustache, wig, heels, and dress
on the left side of the stage! "Hi Jay!"

Oh, for a world where we can all live-and-let-joyously-live together - and here it is, in picturebook form. "Mermaids on Parade" made my inner 5 year old soooo happy.

Thanks, Melanie!


ps - the illustration I've shared above is actually a portrait of my friends, Eve, Robin and Jay, a.k.a. the amazing "Disco Mermaids," whose kidlit fame is spreading!

Friday, August 15, 2008

BEJING's OLYMPIC-SIZED CLOSET: If they're not coming OUT, what's going ON?

Huānhuan is a male mascot of 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is the Olympic flame and it represents the red Olympic ring. Both for the element and for the actual Fengshui element, Huānhuan always represent the fire. Its personality is extrovert and enthusiastic, and it is the passion. It is the mascot for the ball sports. Huanhuan represents the passion of sports, the Olympic spirit of "faster, higher, stronger", and the passion of the Beijing Olympics. Huanhuan's headgear comes from a fire design in the Mogao Caves, the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes.

[grammar woes taken intact from the wikipedia site...]

WHERE IS THE PASSION for being true to ourselves that this cute little cartoon animal mascot should be representing as well?

WHERE are all the GLBTQ Athletes???

Besides the 11 we lauded yesterday, do the math. Conservative 10% estimate...

There are AT LEAST 1,102 GLBTQ Athletes at the XXIX Summer Olympics.

minus the 11 who are OUT,

that leaves 1,091 Closeted Athletes at the Bejing XXIX Summer Olympics.


Well, to answer that, it's SURVEY time once again here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

There are lots of theories out there and in the news, but it's time to hear what YOU, my blogreaders, think.


The Bejing's Olympic-Sized Closet survey is open now.

Click Here to take survey

I'll post results next Friday, giving you all one week.

I apologize, but I can only tabulate the first 100 responses, so if you want your vote to count, please jump on it now!

I promise it'll be quick and fun.

And of course, if you have more to say, you can always share in the "comment" section here.

Thanks for being part of this!



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Eleven Olympians Who Get Our Gold Medals For Being Proud and OUT Athletes in Bejing!

OUT of 11,028 athletes who are competing in the Olympics that are going on right now, there are 11 who are out and proud members of our GLBTQ community. (Percentage-wise, that's a paltry .1 %)

For being role models - not just for their athleticism - but for living their truths and letting the world know that Gay men and Lesbians and Bisexuals** can excel in ANY arena, including the Olympics, "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" hereby awards these heroes with our very own symbolic Gold Medals!

Congratulations to all!

The Gay Man

Okay, this is frustrating, but believe it or not, there is only ONE out gay man who is an athlete at this summer's XXIX Olympic Games!

And our gold medal goes to...

representing Australia, and all of us!

(He was also on the cover of the August 26, 2008 Advocate newsmagazine.)

The Lesbians

Okay, biggest category. 8 Gold Medals go to...

representing Germany, and all of us!

Imke Duplitzer, fencing
representing Germany, and all of us!

Natasha Kai, soccer
representing the USA, and all of us!

Lauren Lappin, softball
representing the USA, and all of us!

Victoria Svensson, soccer
representing Sweden, and all of us!

Rennae Stubbs, tennis
representing Australia, and all of us!

The Lesbian Couple who compete together,
Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg, handball,

representing Norway, and all of us!

The Bisexuals

There are two openly OUT Bisexual athletes at the Olympics.

And our Gold Medals go to...

Vicky Galindo, Softball
representing the USA, and all of us!

And Linda Bresonik, Soccer

representing Germany, and all of us!

Okay, now I can't wait to watch more of the Olympics, see more great athleticism and sports, and root for my favorites (yup, our very own "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" Gold Medalists - the heroes above!!!)



Thanks to Jim Buzinski's great article over at Outsports blog for the most comprehensive list I've come across!

Also thanks to Malinda Lo's great roundup of Queer Women athletes at this summer's Olympic games at!

**Someday maybe we'll get Transgender athletes at the Olympics, too. Though the Olympics has rules in place to allow Transgender athletes to compete, there have been no openly transgender Olympians... yet. There's an interesting article about it here at

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bear Me Safely Over

By Sheri Joseph

It's the American South, and Sidra, in her 20s, lost a sister to AIDS. Now she's in love with Curtis, a redneck, homophobic rocker.

Their relationship is complicated by Curtis' younger stepbrother, Paul. You see, Paul is gay and has a habit of hooking up with older guys in dangerous locations. And Sidra? She wants to protect Paul.

Then Kent, a member of Curtis' band, hooks up with Paul and the two guys start a relationship...

While not published as a Young Adult novel, I'm including "Bear Me Safely Over" here because Paul is a Gay teen and much of this novel revolves around that.

Oh, and there's a good interview with the author here.

Add your review of "Bear Me Safely Over" in comments!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Changing Jamie

By Dakota Chase

Jamie's not out to his parents (or really anyone), but he has a huge crush on Dylan, the high school track star. Not that he'd ever talk to him or anything. You see, he's not at all like Billy, his best friend. Billy is out, and confident, goes on dates all the time, and seems to have it all together.

Then Jamie's assigned to tutor Dylan - and suddenly he's going to have to TALK to the guy he likes. And then, just when he needs his friend's advice the most, Jaime discovers that Billy is a "bug chaser," trying to get infected with HIV!

And in the process of trying to figure all that out and keep Billy safe, Jamie's forced to come out - to their whole high school!

Add your review of "Changing Jamie" in comments!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dance On My Grave

By Aidan Chambers

It was summer.

Hal was 16, and fell in love - his first love - with Barry.

In the heat of their passion, Barry made Hal promise that, "If I die first you dance on my grave."

Tragically, Barry did die not long after that in a motorcycle accident.

Now Hal is piecing together his memories of the love they had, and trying to figure out how he can ever move on. And how in the world is he going to keep his promise? His promise... to dance on his lover's - his first love's - grave.

Add your review of "Dance On My Grave" in comments!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Common Sons

By Ronald L. Donaghe

It's the mid 1960s, in a small town in New Mexico. Joel is the star boxer in his high school and works on his family's farm. Tom, new to town, is the son of a minister.

Joel and Tom become friends, really good friends.

They go to a big dance. They drink a lot. And the two guys kiss.

The kiss changes everything between them, and Joel and Tom realize they are falling in love with each other.

But, since everyone else in their small town has found out about their very public kiss, it changes everything around them, too.

Facing out-and-out hatred and homophobia, will they be able to live their truth? Can their relationship survive? Can they survive?

Add your review of "Common Sons" in comments!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kissing Kate

By Lauren Myracle

Lissa is 16, and she just kissed her best friend (for the last four years), Kate. Really, really kissed her.

They were at a party. Kate had been drinking. Then that kiss - that passionate kiss - happened.

Now Lissa is desperate to talk about it, but Kate wants to pretend that nothing happened, and that Lissa isn't even her friend...

Something BIG happened, and Lissa has to figure out what it all means.

Add your review of "Kissing Kate" in comments!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Networking for authors, illustrators and other childrens literature professionals interested in including GLBTQ Characters and Themes in their work

As I promised a number of my fellow kidlit professionals during the SCBWI conference, here's a link to join the wonderful yahoo group listserve that continues the conversation of including GLBTQ content in childrens' literature...

It's a resource,
a focus group,
a cheerleading section,
and a wonderful kind-hearted community.

And it's yours as well.

While the group's title is GLBTQ YA writers, please don't be misled - we are creating a community that includes ALL childrens' literature professionals (writers, illustrators, art directors, editors, agents, librarians, booksellers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...)

Joining is pretty simple, and we all look forward to broadening the circle to include YOU, if that makes sense for you and your journey.

GLBTQ YA writers is also a new permanent link in my blogroll here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?," in the blue column on the right side, under "Writer Info and Blogs to Check Out"

Come join the discussion!



ps- The cool queer networking image I used above came from this blog entry on social networking for physicians. I don't think they intended it as an illustration of GLBTQ networking, but you gotta admit, it's pretty choice. They didn't credit the image, so sending you there is the best I can do...

Lee's wistful thought: Someday, maybe I'll get help with some cool original graphics... Hi Laurent! hint, hint... (chuckle...)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

21 Great Things I Learned On My Summer Vacation (or more accurately, at the SCBWI 2008 Summer Conference)

Me and The Disco Mermaids - Hi Robin! Hi Jay! Hi Eve!

Me and Bruce Coville and Greg Pincus - Hi Bruce! Hi Greg!

Me and David LaRochelle - Hi David!


So much wisdom packed into 4 days!

It reminded me of those old game shows where they put some adrenaline-hyped up winner (the poor sap) in a glass tube filled with dollar bills, then they turn on the fan below her and as the bills whip and flash through the vacuum-charged air, and she's trying NOT to remind everyone of that famous photo of Marilyn Monroe on the subway vent, she has 10 seconds to catch and thus keep as much money as she can.

Of course, I missed most of the cash, but here are some of the harder gems that knocked me in the head and that I managed to remember to write down:

Laura Rennert, Agent, on elements of successful picture books. They...

"Render the ordinary extraordinary."

Margaret Peterson Haddix, Author, on your character doing things that move your plot forward. But,

"Your character doesn't know there is a plot. Why are your characters doing that?"

Stephen Malk, Agent, giving advice...

"Have a career model. Do a case study of a career."

Arthur A. Levine, Editor, in his keynote on the surprising health of the picturebook market, poking fun at the alarmist narrative of it's demise (you have to do your best to imagine his "Mr. Bill" impression)...

"Oh Noooo!"

David Gale, Editor, on the amazing picturebook "And Tango Makes Three" by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole, which is the true story of two gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo and the baby penguin they raise as their own...

"For the last two years, it was the most challenged book in America."

and on Tango's huge success

"It has followed a different sales model" than any other picturebook - spiking in sales after each challenge!

David LaRochelle, Author, on how to write funny

"Think about what makes you laugh."

Lin Oliver, Author, following that point up

"You can't be funny in someone else's way."

Sid Fleishman, Author, on other people's judging his humor

"If I laugh at the typewriter, that's enough for me."

and then, someone in the audience called out,

"What's a typewriter?"

Rachel Cohn, Author, on treating your characters

"Don't smother - that's (s) Mother your characters and have them make better choices."

And then Rachel shared Gail Giles' advice on writing for teens,

"'I've had characters remind me that consequences are meaningless at that age and immediate gratification takes too long.'"

Bruce Coville, Author, on writing fantasy. Go for a...

"Touch of Destiny. Kids want to believe in fate, in specialness."

and from the same talk, this one

"Strive for a sense of the numinous"

(an unexplainable sense of a larger, sacred fabric of the universe being around you.)

Adam Rex
, on his background before becoming an author/illustrator...

"I got my B.F.A."

while on the screen behind him, this definition flashed:

BFA |be ef a| abbr.
Barrista of the Future,

Leonard Marcus, Children's book historian and Author, quoting the legendary Ursula Nordstrom:

"'Is there any prettier sight in the world than someone sticking out their own neck?'"

Sara Pennypacker, Author, on school visits...

"Kids love their authors, but it's a savage love."

Alan Katz, Author...

"Clip Clop is someone's else's writing to describe the sound of horses. How do your horses sound?"

John Rocco, Author/illustrator

"When you talk to one librarian it's like talking to 400 kids."

Sara Pennypacker, Author

"The Beginning of your book is a promise, and you spend the rest of the book delivering on that promise."

Susan Patron, Author...

"Yearning is a part of all art."

Susan quoting Mark Teague...

"We - our books - are doing good in the world. And that is a fine thing."

Lin Oliver, Author and Executive Director of SCBWI, to the more than 1000 authors, illustrators, editors, agents, art directors and other kid lit professionals, in the final goodbye moment of the conference main session,...

"I hope you're feeling like part of a tribe, because you are."

And I do. I really do.

Thank you to everyone above and Thank you as well to so many others that I got to meet and chat with - and please know that if I didn't talk about a gem from you, it doesn't mean you didn't throw handful after handful of beautiful baubles at me - I just didn't manage to catch those! And, of course, there were a couple that I have to save for later.

For now, I'm full of ideas, and joy, and a sense of Tribe, and I say to you all...



Monday, August 4, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt? PROOF that it is a small world, after all!

Need to cheer up? Want to feel hopeful? Gotta fulfill an urge to smile?

Well here's a video that is so awesome, I have to share it here!

Check this out:

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

What an amazing way to show our shared humanity and just one of the millions of possibilities for pure joy that are ours for the claiming!

Thank you to Matt and everyone who worked on this for sharing this with us.

And a big thanks to Rita Crayon Huang for letting me know about it in the first place!




Friday, August 1, 2008



It's one of my favorite times of the year - The Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Annual Summer Conference.

A whole 4 days of learning, and connecting, and being inspired as a writer!

Stuff on the art and craft of writing.

Stuff on the career of being a writer.

And a whole lot of hanging out with some of the coolest people I know!

So, I'm off to the conference... And next week, I'll let you know how great it was!