Friday, October 29, 2010

My Speaker Visit at Palisades Charter High School in California

Palisades Charter High School, Pacific Palisades, California

So yesterday I had the amazing honor of going to Pali High to do my presentation, "SAFE SPACE: Ending Anti-Gay Bullying in our Culture... And at Your School."

I was met at 7:30am by Jill Barker, Randy Tenan-Snow and Holly Korbonski - the Gay-Straight-Alliance Club's faculty sponsors, and we went to the assembly hall. The room was set up for 350 students, and once the technology was running smoothly (thanks, Ren!) the classes started arriving.

The first hour-long assembly went great - I had so much to share, to tell the students, and they really listened. I spoke about the climate of our culture and the recent spike in media attention to gay teen suicides. I told them my story of coming out as a gay man - and about my being married to a wonderful guy and being a father.

Nearly 90% of the students at Pali High had heard the expression "that's so gay" - not just since the school year began, and not just this week, but that morning before coming to hear me speak!

I got them up on their feet to demonstrate the power of coalitions and allies - and how if you add up all the "minorities" in our culture, we make up the vast majority.

I spoke about language, culture (we watched some video clips and analyzed them) and laws that send messages of GLBTQ second class citizenship.

Students at the first assembly

We looked at history, and at some surprising historical figures that were GLBTQ.

And I challenged every student listening to not be a bystander, but in the term coined by the amazing organization Facing History And Ourselves, be an UPstander. To stand up with courage and bravery when it's not about you, and make a difference.

I'm challenging each of the students to be an UPstander.

I suggested lots of ways for them to stand up for equality and for their school to be a SAFE SPACE - for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning students and for EVERYONE who is different.

I shared my own story about being bullied, and how I was contacted, 32 years later, by one of the guys who had bullied me in elementary school.

And as a finale, I showed them one of my favorite "It Gets Better" videos - and urged them to understand that the message isn't just - hold on, survive high school, it will get better once you're out of here - but that WE HAVE TO MAKE IT BETTER.

Every one of them... Every one of us.

We can make SAFE SPACE be not just something that happens in the room where the GSA meetings are held, or even in the assembly hall where I spoke.

But each one of us can be a SAFE SPACE - if we are willing to be UPstanders, we can change not just a room, or a campus... but these kids can change the world.

It went really well.

A whole bunch of students came up to me afterward to thank me and introduce themselves - really grateful the discussion was happening at their school.

Talking with a student after one presentation

One student came up to me before the second assembly, and said,
"I just went out to my friends and told them I'm not going to use the word 'faggot' or 'bitch' anymore."

And I think that's awesome.

For my second assembly, word had gotten out, and students poured into the hall - the seats were all filled and still they came. They were sitting three, four, five deep on the floor, on the stage behind me, everywhere - more than 450 students, waiting to hear my presentation. Some teens came back to hear me a second time.

It wasn't without incident. I found out afterwards that one parent had heard that I was speaking as a guest of the GSA club, and physically came to the school and pulled their child out of the assembly.

I also heard from a teacher that one student objected to her on the grounds that he was too religious to listen, and while she told him he didn't have to stay for my presentation, she said to him, "Keep in mind - Jesus would have listened." And that student stayed for the whole hour.

More than 450 students stayed, and listened, and interacted, and were challenged for that second assembly, and it was amazing.

And then, I went to the Gay-Straight Alliance Club's lunchtime meeting.

I entered to a packed room of students, and when I walked through the door, everyone burst into applause. (That was so sweet - it totally made me feel like a rock star!)

At the GSA meeting, we had a great Question and Answer session, and the students seemed fired up about shifting the culture at their school to be not just tolerant - not just accepting - but to celebrate the differences, including celebrating the school's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning students.

Author Ben Mikaelsen said to me recently that if you're going to go into a school to just entertain the kids, the school could probably hire a clown for that. You want to go in and make an impact - speak to the students directly about what they can do to live their lives to their full potential.

I took that advice to heart. And I hope (and believe I did) deliver that.

I had (and have) so much to say about ending Anti-GLBTQ Bullying and Bias in our culture and our schools, and yesterday, I was heard by more than 800 high school students!

Before I left the campus, one student stopped me, telling me he'd been at my first presentation. And he said:

"I was very moved and it made me feel better about myself."

That made me so happy.

I'm really honored to have been given the opportunity to have my voice heard at Pali High.

And I'm so delighted to share with you all how great my speaker visit went! (It was the first time I'd spoken to that large a group of students!)

Left to Right: Randy Tenan-Snow, myself, and Jill Barker -
two of the amazing faculty sponsors of Pali High's GSA club.

If you're interested in having me come to your middle school or high school to present my talk or do my in-class SMASHING STEREOTYPES workshops, contact me at leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com.

Thanks so much Pali High!


ps - all photos by the amazing Rita Crayon Huang! Thanks, Rita!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Say The Word - A Teen Novel with a Lesbian Mom and Homophobia Theme

By Jeannine Garsee

Shawna is 17 and works hard at being "perfect."

But then her estranged Mom - who left Shawna and her dad seven years ago for a woman - dies, and her Mom's widowed partner and their two children come smashing into Shawna's life.

Shawna's super-controlling Dad finds out one of Shawna's half-brothers is actually his biological child, and as things get nasty and difficult and "perfect" is long gone, Shawna struggles to figure out what's the "right" thing to do.

My thanks to Palisades Charter High School librarian Andrea King for the recommendation. Check out Lulu's awesome Nerds Heart YA review of "Say The Word" here, and leave your review in comments!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cheryl Rainfield, author of "Scars" tells LGBTQ Teens: "It Gets Better."

Cheryl's novel Scars moved me, and so did this:

If you are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming or Questioning, and you're in crisis, you can call the Trevor Project's Lifeline, 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk to someone who'll listen.

And Cheryl's right:
It Gets Better.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Something Like Fate - A Teen Romance With A Gay Best Friend And Homophobia Theme

By Susane Colasanti

Lani's best friend is Erin. They've been best friends forever, especially since the accident when Erin pretty much saved Lani's life.

Now they're in High School, and Erin's started to date Jason, this perfect guy. Only thing is, he's the perfect guy... for Lani.

It's like fate, how Lani and Jason are meant to be. And they both feel it. Only... how can Lani do that to her best friend?

Lani's other best friend is Blake, who is secretly gay. Lani knows, but no one else does. And then, word gets out at school, and Blake's kicked out of his home.

It all leaves Lani struggling to figure out friendship, and love... and fate.

Add your review of "Something Like Fate" in comments!

Monday, October 25, 2010

GSA Mondays: U.S. President Barack Obama has a message for GLBTQ Teens, "It Gets Better"

Watch this with your GSA, or as part of this virtual Gay-Straight Alliance:

It's pretty awesome to hear it from our President.

It would be more powerful if he was more fierce about his advocacy for GLBTQ equality across the board - but I truly appreciate these words.

It Gets Better.

And hopefully all of us adults (including President Obama) will keep the GLBTQ teen community in mind as we continue to fight for full equality for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Americans - and for full equality for everyone who is different.

Yes, individually it does get better - you graduate school, you get out of your parents' house, you get away from the bullies - but for the overall culture to continue to get better for GLBTQ Teens, it requires all of us, Teens and Adults, the GLBTQ communities and our Allies, to keep working, fighting, and making our voices heard!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Joel Burns Comes Out About How "It Gets Better"

This is really powerful.

Joel Burns
' It Gets Better address during the Fort Worth, Texas, City Council meeting been watched over 2 million times on YouTube since it was recorded on October 12, 2010.

Watch it:

Share it.

Spread the word: It Gets Better.

And if you need to talk to someone, know that there are people to talk to at The Trevor Project and their Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)

It Gets Better.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Princess Boy - A Non-Fiction Picture Book (and the true story) Of A Gender Non-Conforming Boy and his Super-Supportive Family And School

In this world of hard stories about bullying - especially bullying of GLBTQ kids - Dyson is a boy who wants to wear sparkly, pink and swirly clothes. And this gender non-conforming 5 year old gets full support and unconditional love from not only his parents, and his older brother, but even his school... When Dyson wanted to dress up as a Princess for the school celebration of Halloween, three of the biggest "macho" male adults at his school dressed up as ballerinas - not as a joke, but to show their support!

It's a story well worth watching:

And as the TV show host says,

"A little more love, kindness and acceptance would go a long way."
Dyson's Mom Cheryl Kliodavis wrote and published "My Princess Boy: A Mom's Story about a young boy who loves to dress up," a non-fiction picture book about her son and their experience.

My thanks to author Hayden Thorne for sharing this with me so I could share it with you, and to Richard Metzger, whose article at Dangerous Minds, My Princess Boy: Meet The Most Awesome Family In America, tells the story beautifully.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Gets Better - Broadway Sings For the Trevor Project

Wear your purple shirt, and watch this...

It made me cry.

It does get better.

And if you need to talk to someone, contact the Trevor Project's lifeline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fear Of Falling - A Teen Book About Homophobia

By Hannah R. Goodman

Maddie's 16, and she's given up on love and all those self-help books. Now she's editing the school paper and writing sad poems.

When she gets an anonymous letter from a gay student who's been physically threatened, Maddie feels like she has to take a stand.

But just how far is she willing to go?

"Fear Of Falling" is the third novel Hannah has self-published. It's worth noting that both of her previous self-published books have won awards - her first book, "My Sister's Wedding" winning the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, children's book division.

Add your review of "Fear of Falling" in comments!

Monday, October 18, 2010

GSA Homework: Get / Wash / Wear A Purple Shirt So You Are Ready For This Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the words of Brittany McMillan, who organized this event:

"It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in memory of the recent gay suicides. Many of them suffered from homophobic abuse in their schools or in their homes. We want to take a stand to say that we will not tolerate this. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th to remember all the lives of LGBTQ youth that have been lost due to homophobia. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools."

Thanks, Brittany. It's a great idea.

We all have two more days to get the word out, and get ourselves a purple shirt.

You can spread the word on facebook here or here or here.

And on Wednesday, wear purple with me.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Where Gay Teen Suicides Start - My 'Viewpoint' is Published in The Palisadian Post!

So reading my local paper last week, there was a short piece by a parent who described an incident at a local AYSO children's soccer game. In one moment before the game, the coaches were busy, so one father jumped in to get the kids moving - he challenged them to race to the goal and back, telling them:

"Last one is a sissy!"

The parent said: "Sure enough, the last kid was called a sissy by several players."

I couldn't get this out of my mind.

So the next day, instead of working on my novel, I found myself writing this piece to my local paper. It was printed in yesterday's edition.

Here's the text:


Five Gay teenagers killed themselves in September.

Billy Lucas, 15, in Greensburg, Indiana, bullied for being Gay, killed himself on September 9th.

Seth Walsh, 13, in Tehachapi, California, bullied for being Gay, killed himself on Sept 19th.

Tyler Clementi, 18, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, killed himself on Sept 22nd, after being publicly outed as Gay.

Asher Brown, 13, in Houston, Texas, bullied for being Gay, killed himself on Sept 23rd.

And on September 29, openly Gay Raymond Chase, 19, at Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island, killed himself.

Five suicides in three weeks.

And suddenly the media’s on the case, the country’s paying attention, and headlines (like in People magazine) shout: “Why did this happen, and how can it be stopped?”

And then I read in last week’s two cents column about the father at a local soccer game, who challenged the players on his boy's team to race to the goal and back, telling them, “The last one is a sissy.” The Two Cents caller said, “Sure enough, the last kid was called a sissy by several players.”

This is where hate starts. In small moments like this. A thoughtless comment, meant to motivate, but what did it actually teach? Being last is bad. Being a “sissy” is the same as being a loser. You don’t want to be a loser. You don’t want to be a sissy.

Similar to “You run like a girl,” this is the kind of lesson that teaches our kids to hate and look down on those different from themselves – girls, gays, the weak, the slow – and teaches our kids who are different that maybe they should hate themselves, too.

Why do these Gay teen suicides happen? They’ve been taught to hate themselves. They couldn’t hear the messages of hope over the noise of hate. They didn’t know about the books out there for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning teens. They didn’t hear the voices of out, proud and happy GLBTQ Adults, telling them “It Gets Better,” an important project Dan Savage started on youtube. They didn’t call the Trevor Project’s Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) to talk to someone who could help.

How can these Gay teen suicides be stopped? We can start at the AYSO games right here in Pacific Palisades – when our kids are 5 and 6 years old. We can start by thinking before we “motivate” children by teaching them to feel better about themselves by putting others down or beating them in a meaningless foot race. We can start on the path to a better world, today, just by changing what we say.

We need to.

(Lee Wind, a resident of Pacific Palisades, writes “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I Read?,” a blog about books, culture and politics for GLBTQ teens and their allies. He leads Smashing Stereotypes Workshops in middle and high schools, and can be reached at

I'm so pleased to get the word out about this. And I want to thank the Palisadian Post for running my piece in this week's print edition - on the top of page 2!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sharing Some Good News

I'm pretty excited to share with you all two really nice things that have happened regarding my writing.

1. My middle grade manuscript, OVER GOD, just won the 2010 Honorable Mention for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award. It's a huge shout-out, and I'm doubly thrilled because my friend Sara Wilson Etienne won the same award two years ago - the 2008 Honorable Mention for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award - and she just sold her novel in a two book deal! I am in very good company!

Sue Alexander was an amazing writer and teacher and Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators powerhouse (did you know she was SCBWI's very first member?), and this award to help writers break through continues her legacy with beauty and meaning.

2. The same manuscript got me a place in the 2010/2011 Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program - and as part of that program I'll be revising OVER GOD over the next 7 months with the incredible Emma Dryden as my editor/mentor! I feel so fortunate to be part of this program, and I'm grateful to Ellen Hopkins and Suzanne Morgan Williams at the Nevada SCBWI for creating this mentoring program to help writers like myself take our work to the next level.

I'll be revising and writing up a creative storm in the upcoming months, and I hope that leads to more good news to share in the future.

Thank you, my community, for cheering me on.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tips On Having A Gay (ex) Boyfriend - A Teen Novel with a Main Gay Character

By Carrie Jones

Belle is sure that Dylan is her soulmate. After all, he's Eastbrook High School's 'Harvest King' to her 'Harvest Queen.'

But then, Dylan tells her he's Gay.

Belle struggles to figure out where that leaves her - and how she could have missed figuring it out. And when Dylan starts dating a guy in their small town, now she has to worry about him being in real physical danger.

And then Belle falls in love, all over again, with Tom. And she's sure Tom's not Gay. Fingers crossed.

Add your review of "Tips On Having A Gay (ex) Boyfriend" in comments!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jumpstart The World - A Teen Transgender Novel

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Elle's on her own - at 15 she has to move into her own apartment because her mom's boyfriend can't deal with her.

She meets her neighbor Frank - he's older, and has a girlfriend.

Frank is different than any guy she's ever met. He listens to her. He's gentle. And Elle's falling in love with him.

But then Elle finds out that Frank is transgender.

It changes everything she thought she knew about herself. It changes everything she thought she knew about friendship. It changes everything she thought she knew about the world.

And now Elle has to figure out: Just how powerful is love?

"Jumpstart The World" releases officially today! Check out Daisy Porter's great review of over at Queer YA: Fiction for LGTBQ Teens. And drop in on Catherine's remarkable 26 stop blog book tour!

And of course, please add your review here in comments!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Today (Oct 11, 2010) is National Coming Out Day!

And because of that, today demanded 2 posts!

I'm Gay. And Out. And Proud!
Now I know not everyone who is Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual or Transgender or Questioning can stand up Today and say that.

But I hope we can all stand up and say that we're working towards that day, when GLBTQ people have full equality, and the homophobia we still see in our society* is an odd cultural relic, like looking back on laws that prevented couples like Heidi Klum and Seal from getting married.

*I was struck by yesterday's speech by Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for Governor of New York, who said:
"I just think my children and your children would be better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't."

What I find astonishing is Mr. Paladino's complete lack of understanding of the dynamics of not just being queer, but of being human. There is no CHOICE in whom you're attracted to. That's hard-wired. Everyone above the age of puberty should know that - you're attracted to whom you're attracted to. And you can suppress it. You can lie about it. You can try to ignore it. But that's how you are built.

There IS a choice in whether or not you're going to be honest about who you're attracted to. Whether you're going to live your life honestly, openly. Whether you're going to be open to experiencing true love and passion. Whether you're going to allow yourself to become the best and most authentic YOU you can be.

So it's not about "brainwashing" kids to let them think that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It's about letting kids know that honestly being themselves, if they are Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual, or Transgender, or Questioning, is an equally valid and successful option to everyone else who is honest about who they are.

Hiding who you are if you're Gay? That's an option that is NOT equally valid and successful.

Being yourself and being openly GLBTQ? That IS an equally valid and successful option. Because the option isn't to become straight. The option is to lie about who you are.

So everyone's children (including, as the New York Times reported, Mr. Paladino's gay staffer) might indeed be "better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family" - especially if they're able to safely come out as Gay and the laws of this country allowed them to marry the man or woman they fall in love with! (Though really, not everyone needs to get married and have kids to be successful!)

And you know what? I don't want my kid brainwashed any longer by our culture into thinking that homosexuality is NOT an equally valid or successful option. It absolutely is!

Here's more info from the Human Rights Campaign on National Coming Out Day - with resources and events.

Another way to celebrate is to check out my "Coming Out?" Links on the right column of this blog. There's some great stuff there, a few awesome youtube videos (Dan Savage and his husband Terry telling GLBTQ kids and teens "It Gets Better!" and Dustin Lance Black accepting his Oscar for "Milk" and sharing a message for Gay kids today), and a link to my first essay on National Coming Out Day at this blog - which still resonates for me.

So no matter who you love, remember to love yourself first - and celebrate National Coming Out Day!


GSA Mondays: Next week is ALLY WEEK - Let's Get YOU (and your GSA) ready!

One thing I've learned from over two years of volunteering with a local high school's Gay-Straight Alliance club is that some meetings are inward-focused, and some extend the club out into the larger school community.

Next week (Oct 18-22, 2010) is "Ally Week," and GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) is helping everyone get ready to celebrate our Allies and have members of the broader community stand up and say, "Yes, I'm an Ally to the Gay Community."

You can have people sign up and take the Ally Pledge to end Anti-LGBT Bullying and harassment.

If you are an Ally, you can stand up and let people know you believe in LGBTQ Equality. That you believe that our schools and our communities should be a safe space for all people, Straight and Gay and anywhere in-between.

And if you are a member of the GLBTQ community, let our Allies know that THEY are part of our community as well. Invite them to be part of our GSA clubs, invite them to share our journey and struggle - and ultimate triumph as we all change the world together... And make it a better place!

So this week, plan how you (and your GSA) can reach out to our Allies in your school and in your communities.

And next week, we'll celebrate our Allies!


Friday, October 8, 2010

My Interviews Are Published in the 2011 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market!!!

I'm published!

One of the amazing things to come out of this blog for me personally is that I've gotten the chance to learn - and show - that I'm a good interviewer. (You can check out some of my SCBWI Team Blog interviews of luminaries in the world of Children's Literature in the right sidebar.)

And thanks to the amazing editor Alice Pope, I was given the opportunity to contribute three interviews to the 2011 Edition of the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market - a reference and inspiration 'bible" for the world of kid and teen lit that's sold over 500,000 copies in its 23 editions!

Here's the table of contents, with "by Lee Wind" listed three times!!!

I'm really excited - Jacqueline Woodson, H. Jack Martin, and Laurent Linn all shared so openly and with such insight!

And I love the interview titles:

Jacqueline Woodson

"I write because I have questions, not answers."

H. Jack Martin

NYC Public Library Assistant Director on Reaching the YA Audience

Laurent Linn

"Sharing the responsibility of Storytelling" in Your Art

I feel so fortunate to have been able to have these deep and substantive discussions with Jacqueline, Jack and Laurent. To have the insight and knowledge of an incredible award-winning author: Jacqueline writes (and wins awards!) across genres, and had one of the best answers ever for how to tackle big topics (like racism, and homophobia) in our writing without it getting 'preachy.' To learn from an innovative librarian who knows teens: Jack is the quintessential out-of-the-box thinker, who brought video game competitions and alternative proms into the New York City Public Library, and through his innovation, connected to a whole new generation of kids. And to get the real scoop from a successful art director and artist: Laurent shared so much about what an illustrator's portfolio should include, and what the art should do! To have these three At-The-Top-Of-Their-Game experts answer MY questions was a heady experience.

And hopefully, for those who read the interviews, it will be a conversation that will engage, enlighten, and inspire!

I loved doing these interviews, and I'm so excited that now they're out there for the world to read! For you to read.

Thank you Alice. And thank you Jacqueline, Jack, and Laurent. You made me look good!

Namaste, and happy reading,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Girl, Hero - A Teen Book with a Cross-Dressing Parent

By Carrie Jones

Lily's a freshman in high school, and she just landed a lead in the school musical. But her mom's alcoholic boyfriend is a touchy freak. Her sister's showing up bruised because her husband hits her, and Lily's dad is slowly coming out about being a cross-dresser.

To deal, Lily starts writing letters. To John Wayne. Okay, she knows he's a dead movie star, but he was a hero... and maybe she can figure out how to be one, too.

I love what the Carrie said about this book on her website:

I wanted to write a book about a girl who has had a lot of crud happen to her but still found her way to be a hero, not a super big movie hero, not an over-the-top black lycra-wearing, kick-Vampire-butt hero, but a hero to herself. I wanted to write a book about a girl who was tired of being a victim.

Thanks to blog reader Christine for the recommendation! And please add your review of "Girl, Hero" in comments.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tim Gunn's message to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth: IT GETS BETTER!

Tim's right. It gets better.

If you need help with where you are on your journey, check out The Trevor Project. You're not alone. People DO care. Like Tim. And myself. And so many others...

Thank you, Tim, for speaking from your heart and sharing so honestly.

Tim "made it work" - and found that life got better.

Dan Savage and his husband Terry got through their teen years and also found that life got better.

That's my experience, too. Believe us. IT GETS BETTER!

Be good to yourselves.


Thanks to Daniel for the link!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Get Ready. Get Set. The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference Registration...

Opens Tomorrow!!! (Wednesday Oct 6, 2010 at 10am pacific standard time.) It's going to be sooo cool!

And if this blog headline sounds like the start of a race, well, it kind of is... The pre-conference intensives always sell out. And they are an amazing opportunity for writers and illustrators of kid lit. For writers, you get to sit at a table with an Editor or an Agent, read them the first 500 words of your work in progress, and get their feedback. Sometimes it sparks something in them, and they want to read the rest. Careers have been made in those moments. Sometimes, their feedback sparks something in you, and you realize what you need to do to revise your manuscript and make it better. And always, listening to the feedback you get and other people give (and get), you learn. 'Cause you're sitting at a table with eight other authors and a kid lit professional! And you get to do it twice, with two different kid lit professionals - once in the morning, once in the afternoon. It's a great opportunity to turbo-charge your journey.

And then the conference itself, all day Saturday and the first half of Sunday. There's going to be lots of info shared on the business of writing and illustrating, and lots of inspiration shared on the journey of being a writer (and yes, an illustrator!)

Once more, I'll be hosting (with some exciting soon-to-be-announced co-hosts) a GLBTQ and Allied Mixer on Saturday night.

And once again, I'm honored to be part of SCBWI Team Blog, lead by Alice Pope,

and we'll be giving you exclusive pre-conference interviews with faculty and live-blogging from the conference floor.

It will be January in New York, and it'll be cold outside, but inside... we'll be experiencing creative fusion!

Oh, did I mention the pigeon and knuffle-bunny master himself, Mo Willems, will be on faculty?

And National Book Award Finalist Sara Zarr (for "Story of a Girl"), Newbery Award Winning Author Lois Lowry (She won for "The Giver" and has written 36 other books!), Jules Feiffer (memoirist, illustrator and author, who illustrated Lois Lowry's latest book, "Birthday Ball"), author R.L. Stine (who's so scary good he'll give you goosebumps - get it?), and more!!!


I hope you can join us.

Set your clocks, alarms, and put it in your calendar:

Tomorrow, 10am, registration opens.

Be in New York City for the magic, January 28-30, 2011.

will be the twitter hashtag to follow! And bookmark (or subscribe to) The Official SCBWI Conference Blog for links and updates from everyone on Team Blog. (And you can check out the incredible archive we've created of material from previous conferences, too!)


Monday, October 4, 2010

GSA Monday: October is LGBT History Month!

This is a project of Equality Forum, in conjunction with the announcement by the U.S. Department of Education recognizing October as LGBT History Month.

“For a community deprived of its history, GLBT History Month teaches heritage, provides role models, builds community, and recognizes extraordinary national and international contributions,”
said Ora Alger, LGBTA Employees at ED President, U.S. Department of Education.

Every day in October they'll update this video feed below with a new video of a LGBT Icon. So keep checking back to learn and cheer and be inspired!

The videos are brief - like headlines -, and then there's more information on each of the month's icons here where you can click on their "biography" links to learn more.

So, for October 1st's icon, Eric Alva, you learn more than that he was the first US Soldier injured in the Iraq war, who became a national spokesperson for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We get powerful quotes like this one:

“I had fought and nearly died to secure rights for others that I was not free to enjoy. I had proudly served a country that was not proud of me.”

It's a cool resource.

Happy Queerstory!


Friday, October 1, 2010

A Love Letter To A Banned Book: "Annie On My Mind," by Nancy Garden

Dear Liza,

I just finished listening to the audio book of your story.

And I fell in love with you falling in love.

With your meeting Annie at the Met. With your play-acting sword-fights. With your blossoming from friendship to infatuation to love to passion.

With your fighting so hard to keep that love, when everything seemed to turn against the two of you.

With your struggle to figure things out. Write it all down. Make sense of the past... And your heart. And your future.

And then, oh, Liza, your happy ending!

Your story gave me chills. It made me teary-eyed. I was you, Liza. And Annie. And Ms. Stevenson, and Ms. Widmer. I was all of you, and somehow, through the magic of your author's art, you were all me. ...And I'm not even a girl!

I know they tried to ban your story. They burned copies. But your story lives on. (I listened to the audio of the 25th anniversary edition, and loved the interview with your author, Nancy Garden, and K.T. Horning at the end!)

Liza, reading your story made me so, so happy. I know that despite the book banners, "Annie On My Mind" will be read, and loved, and continue to change lives for generations to come.

Please say thank you to your author Nancy, for giving us you, and Annie, and a love story that gave me (and so many others) hope.

You were the very first teen novel with a main GLBTQ character with an absolute happy ending.

And you changed the world.



ps- Annie on my Mind is beautifully reviewed by Roger Sutton at The Horn Book, and also by readers here at the I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read? listing. You can find out more about the efforts to ban this book - and how the book and author triumphed at Nancy Garden's website.