Monday, January 31, 2011

The First Ever Completely Subjective Best Business Card At A Children's Literature Conference Award, and a Conference Tip

So, if you've been following along, I've been in New York City at the remarkable 2011 Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference, participating in the writer's intensive, blogging as part of SCBWI Team Blog, and Moderating the GLBTQ in SCBWI Chat. One of the best things about the conference is meeting TONS of people - everyone there as passionate about great children's literature as I am!

I exchanged business cards with people I met by the hotel fountain.

I swapped business cards with people I met in sessions.

I traded cards like kids trade silly bands, and I ended up with a huge assortment of postcards, business cards, flyers and brochures!

I got cards from writers, illustrators, editors, agents, art directors, regional advisors, and even a brochure from the pizza place in the food court in grand central, but I'm not counting that.

Here's what my spread out pile looks like (I did this in the hotel lobby... and since it was New York, no one even seemed to notice!)

So many cards. So many people - all of whom I'm delighted to have met.

Here's my tip: I'm writing on the back of each card when I met that person in the conference, and anything I can recall our talking about. Just a few words, but that little note will help me connect the card to the person in the future. After all, there are more conferences I'll be going to!

And with all these cards, I found myself building my own mental scale - kind of like Linda Sue Park's chocolate chip cookie tip. And I decided that I would share what I very subjectively thought was the BEST of all these cards. The most memorable. The one that made me literally burst into laughter. My favorite.

And so, I'm delighted to announce that the winner of The First Ever Completely Subjective Best Business Card At A Children's Literature Conference Award is... (cue your mental drumroll)...

Josh Adams!

*cymbal crash*

(cue the HUGE virtual applause!)

Now something Josh and I were talking about was that he and his wife (and fellow literary agent) Tracey are black belts in Taekwondo. And then Josh gave me his card. (Yes, those are my finger smudges on it - see how real this is?)

The front reads: "MY AGENT IS A NINJA"

The back reads: ADAMS LITERARY. You have been warned.


Congratulations, Josh! Your prize is, well... um, bragging rights. And dude, it IS a great card!

Thanks everyone for building community with me, and for being part of this amazing experience!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference: Sunday!


Today's going to start with award presentations, and then there's a keynote from Sara Zarr! (I had a great twitter exchange with Sara, who a couple of days ago tweeted that she had just rehearsed her #ny11scbwi speech for her parakeet, which resulted in a thoughtful expression - just the response she was going for. I tweeted back, 'but will your parakeet blog about it, or will Team Blog still have the scoop?' And she tweeted me back,

no. he prefers to tweet.

Ahh, you see why you should be following #ny11scbwi and people like sara on twitter? Moments like that are awesome! (And of course, I'd be delighted for you to follow me on twitter as well!)

Then there's the panel "Look Who's Laughing: How To Do Funny for Young Readers and Why" that will feature Douglas Florian, Lenore Look, Leonard Marcus and Mo Willems. I'm sure I'll laugh a lot, but I'm equally excited about how much I can learn from these experts in funny! I saw Mo on Friday night and in person he's hysterical - and had groups of us cracking up!

And then, the closing keynote by the incredible Linda Sue Park - who always inspires and shares her insights - and hearing her speak always makes me leave a better writer!

And then the big autograph party!

WOWSA! This is going to be an incredible day!

Remember to check in with The Offical SCBWI Conference Blog for our SCBWI Team Blog posts live from the conference floor, and to follow us on twitter with the hashtag


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference: Saturday!

Wow - you can feel the excitement in the air!

Things I'm really excited about today:

Lois Lowry's opening keynote!

The panel on "Creating and Recreating the Picture Book" with Patricia Lee Gauch, David Small, and Jane Yolen!

The breakout workshops with Editors and Agents and Art Directors - it's so hard to choose only three!

The keynotes by R.L. Stein and Jules Feiffer!!

And of course, the 6:30-7:30pm FIND THE GLBTQ IN SCBWI conversation with special guests Arianne Lewin and Jim McCarthy that I'm fortunate enough to moderate!!! (details here - tip #2)

It's going to be a HUGE day, and I'm really revved about it!

Remember to check out The Offical SCBWI Conference Blog for our SCBWI Team Blog posts live from the conference floor, and to follow us on twitter with the hashtag

Namaste and enjoy,


Friday, January 28, 2011

The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference: Friday Intensives!

Today should be amazing. The writer's intensive (long since sold-out) and the illustrator's intensive promise to be remarkable opportunities for both sharing our work and improving our craft, and there are always success stories of writers who share their pages and have an editor or agent fall in love with their work...

Also, don't miss the special SCBWI Winter Conference edition of Kid Lit Drink Night, brought to us by the amazing Betsy Bird. And it's barely two blocks from the conference hotel - so we out-of-towners don't have to freeze too much to join in! (Though if it really does drop to 20 degrees on Friday like my weather app says, I'll be taking a cab and just tipping the driver well to compensate for the short trip!) And no, you don't have to drink to join in - order a soda or a water like I will, but come claim your place as part of the greater kid lit community!

Tomorrow the conference launches into full-on AMAZING mode, so check in with myself and the rest of SCBWI Team Blog at The Official SCBWI Conference Blog for all the latest posts.

Also, you can follow the fun on twitter by searching/following the hashtag:

You can even register for the conference as a walk-in. So today's your last day to get to New York (unless you're close enough to drive in Saturday AM!)

Oh, and here's my favorite SCBWI Conference etiquette advice video (Giant THANK YOUS! thanks to Arthur A. Levine and Paula Yoo for being my co-conspirators in making this happen!)

Here's to a great conference!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Teens Are Out to Change The Way LGBTQ Athletes Are Viewed in the Sports World

Check out this new blog, Walk The Road: One Common Goal

"All of us are varsity athletes in high school who are on our own paths to being who we truly are. We invite you to take the stand with us and begin walking the road to equality."

How amazing is that?

There's poetry, photos, essays, letters from readers, journal entries, music picks, workout discussions, and bios of Brad, Ben and Robert. And so many good posts! Like "I am an athlete with pride" and "Just another individual", and "The Life of a gay country college boy."

Maybe my favorite so far is this poem by Robert:

I'm a jock.
I'm a jock who likes guys.
I'm a jock who likes guys and cars.
I'm a jock who likes guys and cars and poetry.
I'm a jock who likes guys and cars and poetry and is a dreamer.

Gosh, I love that. Okay, enough of me telling you about it... Go check out Walk The Road and cheer these guys on!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The 2011 Comment Challenge Finale! It's been 21 days - do you have a new habit yet?

We've arrived! Twenty-one days of commenting (hopefully) five times a day on kid lit blogs! Reading blogs with the intent to join the conversation! Seeing more people coming to our blogs! And realizing that we really are part of a larger community!

Congratulations to Pen and Ink who won our random drawing from last week's check-in!

How did I do with the challenge? Why, thanks for asking!

I clocked in yesterday with 116 comments. So that's more than five a day. (Just over five and a half comments a day - though the half is a good reminder that this isn't a precise science, some days you'll comment more, and some less, but it's all good.) I'm glad I was able to achieve the goal. And yet, even more than the number of comments I made, it was the fact that being part of the challenge re-energized both my commenting and my efforts to read outside of my "usual suspects" that made me feel that
it was a success for me.

To honor the successful conclusion of this year's challenge, I've re-made the graphic to include the 100+ blogs that participated. All together it's 131 blog mastheads. See if you can find yours!

Please click on over to MotherReader's to do your final check-in and let us know

How did it go for you?

That way you'll be part of the big finale of comments and you'll be eligible for the prize drawings! (And remember, when you're looking for some active bloggers in our world of kid lit, a great place to start is the 2011 Comment Challenge's sign up post!)

Thank you again for participating and for being part of this wonderful community!

We'll be back again next year with another edition of The Comment Challenge, but we hope these past three weeks have helped you all forge a new habit of commenting and feeling connected. Let's continue that throughout the year ahead!

Namaste, and keep commenting,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let The Right One In - A Love Story With The Vampire Boy Next Door

By John Ajvide Lindqvist

"The coming-of-age story between two lonely 12-year-olds--one existing as a vampire for 220 years--depicted in the acclaimed Swedish film Let the Right One In and in the recent American remake Let Me In, was originally an award-winning novel. But what was ignored in the American film, and only hinted at in the Swedish original, was that Eli the vampire girl-next-door was actually a boy. Read the gripping tale as young Oskar learns to accept his growing love in the face of both supernatural horror and homophobia."

"But when he said her name aloud he remembered that it was wrong. That was the last thing she had said as they lay together on the couch. That her real name was...Elias. Elias. A boy's name. Was Eli a boy? They had...kissed and slept in the same bed....
Oskar pressed his hands against the bathroom door, rested his forehead against his hands. He tried to think. Hard. And he didn't get it. That he could somehow accept that she was a vampire, but the idea that she was somehow a boy, that...that could be...harder.

My thanks to Donnie for the recommendation, synopsis and favorite passage from the book above! Add your review of "Let The Right One In" in comments!

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Name Calling Week (Jan 24-28, 2011) Starts Today - And What YOU Can Do To Be Part Of It!

Inspired by James Howe's amazing MG novel, The Misfits,

No Name Calling Week is a project of GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. The idea is to recognize the power of words and to talk about how to stop bullying - and then take action to stop it!

There's a cool event happening tomorrow, a Booklist webinar "Battle Bullying with Books: Celebrate No Name-Calling Week at 2pm EST (11am PST)

It will be an "hour-long webinar on how high-quality children’s and young adult literature can help prevent bullying, including a presentation by James Howe, acclaimed author of The Misfits (2001)."

It's also great that a bunch of publishers are sponsoring this program: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Albert Whitman and Company, Rosen Publishing, and Candlewick Press.

And you must check out the Barnes & Nobel website for No Name Calling Week

- including beautiful videos by James Howe, Sonya Sones, Laurie Halse Anderson, and more speaking out about bullying!!! - it's well worth checking out!

Oh, and Pete Hautman has one of the best lines in his video:

"If two dogs with brains the size of walnuts can figure it [bullying] out, don't you think we can, too?"

But I think the best way to honor No Name Calling week is to STOP calling other people names.

Imagine a week where there's no words of denigration used at all. No "fag" or "bitch" or "lame" or "retard." No slurs against those of different ethnic backgrounds or races. No teasing of anyone for being different. Imagine a world where people feel better about themselves based on who they ARE, rather than on trying to feel better than someone else.

And now, let's make that world a reality - one No Name Calling day at a time!



ps- Thanks to Tyler for sharing some of these great links with me so I could share them with you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference - The Top 7 Things You Need To Know

Okay, I'm excited. The conference starts one week from today on Friday January 28, 2011, and YES, you can even register as a walk-in!!!

You can be inspired and learn from some of the luminaries of our world of children's literature - people like two time Newbery Medal winning author Lois Lowry, multi-award winning author/illlustrator Mo Willems, publisher and editor Jennifer Besser, art directors Lucy Ruth Cummins and Denise Cronin, Agent Jim McCarthy, the unbelievably brilliant (and Newbery Medal winning) author Linda Sue Park, National Book Award Finalist Sara Zarr, and many, many more!

And while the writers intensive on Friday is sold out, there's still space in the illustrator's intensive, which sounds so amazing that even though I'm not an illustrator, I have to admit I was tempted...

Assuming you've already made your arrangements to be part of the awesomeness in New York, here are my top 7 things that you need to know to get the most out of the 2011 Winter Conference!

#1. The Twitter hashtag for the conference is #NY11SCBWI

And the Official SCBWI Conference blog, put together by the amazing SCBWI Team Blog ( Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekley, Martha Brockenbrough, Suzanne Young and me, and we're led by Alice Pope, who writes the indispensible Alice Pope's SCBWI Children's Market Blog!) is here at:

#2. There's going to be a special LGBTQ&A Chat during the conference that I once again have the honor of moderating and co-hosting with SCBWI's Director of Communications and Creative Director, Aaron Hartzler. Our special guests will be Executive Editor Arianne Lewin and Agent Jim McCarthy! Here's the details:

Find the LGBTQ in SCBWI!
6:30 – 7:30 PM | Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Alvin/Carnegie Room - Conference Level

At SCBWI’s 2008 Summer Conference in Los Angeles, a group of LGBT editors, agents, and authors met informally to discuss LGBT publishing, specifically chatting about the submission process, who is interested and what types of stories they are interested in. We’ve continued this conversation at each conference since.

Maybe you’ve written a book about or for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning youth; maybe you’re interested in doing so, and you’re just not sure where to begin; maybe you are just curious to learn more about this vital corner of the market for young readers. Whatever your interest in the subject matter, all are welcome. Bring a friend and any questions you may have.

Hosted by SCBWI's Aaron Hartzler and SCBWI Team Blog's Lee Wind, our special guests for this event will be executive editor Arianne Lewin and agent Jim McCarthy.

Arianne Lewin is an executive editor at Putnam Books for Young Readers. Most recently she was senior editor at Hyperion, where she edited Cinda Williams Chima, Whoopi Goldberg, Julie Anne Peters, Laura Numeroff, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, among others. Although she has a special affinity for young adult fiction, Arianne does acquire books in all genres.

Jim McCarthy is an agent at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. His interests encompass both literary and commercial works. He is particularly interested in urban fantasy, paranormal romance, horror, gay and lesbian fiction, and absolutely anything that can make him laugh out loud.

#3. Friday night SLJ's Fuse #8 Blogger and New York City Children's Librarian Extraordinaire Betsy Bird is hosting her famous Kid Lit Drink Night: SCBWI Edition! Come rub elbows and toast to Community with your fellow authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, agents and well, nerdy cool people. Or is that cool nerdy people? Both. It's going to be at The Wheeltapper Pub, 141 East 44th street (near Lexington Ave.) in the backroom (how cool does THAT sound?) Friday, Jan 28, 9pm-ish.

#4. Be ready to answer this question: "So, what are you working on?" Practice your answer - think elevator pitch. 30 seconds. A couple of sentences, tops. Here's mine:

It's a middle grade novel called "OVER GOD." A week before his thirteenth birthday and his Bar Mitzvah - the day in Jewish tradition when you are no longer a child but a man, Adam's freaking out. Why? He's an Atheist, and can't tell anyone his secret... But the day before spring break he plagiarizes a bar mitzvah speech off the internet, gets caught not saying "Under God" during the Pledge of Allegiance at school, and comes up with a partial truth - saying that he's not sure he believes in God. It's his parents' turn to freak out, and his Dad flies him to Israel to "find God" in four days or less. Threatened with expulsion and terrified of losing his parents' love, Adam has to figure out what he's going to do - and what does it means to become a man?

Maybe it's not the perfect pitch, and I'll work on it, but at least I can coherently explain what I'm writing without a sea of "ummmms." Being able to talk about your own current work in progress is really important - even just in talking to other writers and illustrators! So do this bit of homework. I promise, you'll be glad you did.

Oh, and if you're in a situation where there's an agent or editor standing next to you and you're bursting to say something but worried about whether you should bother them or not, read this great blog post by agent Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich, who assures us all that
"...if you’re going to get your money’s worth, you should be talking to the faculty!"
The agents and editors attending are there, in part, to meet and talk with writers and illustrators like you (and me!) so we should feel empowered to politely engage them in conversation. No bathroom stalking, but when it's appropriate, go for it - and now, when you talk with them, you'll be able to discuss your work in progress!

#5. A career in the world of children's literature as a writer and/or illustrator is a balancing of INSPIRATION, CRAFT and BUSINESS.
Allow yourself to be fed in all three areas. Be open to being inspired, and give yourself time to write and sketch and brainstorm. Be willing to learn something to improve your craft. Take notes. Bring along your current WIP, or an outline, or your sketchbook - not so much to share, but for you. Be excited about each step you take towards mastering the business aspects of this - your career. And yes, attending the conference is a giant step towards claiming this journey as your career!

#6. Be professional. This is not the place to get rip-roaring drunk and streak through the hotel lobby on a dare. (It's New York in January. Two words: frost bite!) Consider that, outside of the words or images on the page or screen, you want to be the kind of person editors and agents and art directors and publishers will want to work with: So be that kind, professional, creative soul.

#7. Recognize that you are part of a tribe - those of us who are passionate about creating Children's Literature. As isolating as writing or drawing at your desk may be, there are these glorious moments twice a year where we come together, we, the members of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of us - and last year more than a thousand of us - from all over this country and the world, to learn and grow and network and be inspired... and be a community.

And as you attend the conference, allow yourself to feel like you belong and are part of the community. Because you are.

Okay, those are my tips.

Have more advice for conference goers? Add them here in comments!

Thanks, and hope to see you in New York City!!!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aisling Book One: Guardian - Gay Teen Fantasy

by Carole Cummings

Magic. War. Fate. It's Gay YA Fantasy!

Here's the synopsis from Prizm books, the publisher:

Constable Dallin Brayden knows who he is, what he's about, and he doesn't believe in Fate. 'Wilfred Calder' has no idea who he is, what he's about, and has been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil is brought in for questioning as a witness to a brutal murder, and subsequently flees, Dallin is dragged by duty into the chaos of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries, all of which seem to hinge on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.

The eventual capture of Dallin’s quarry only makes matters worse. Wil is prickly and full of rage, rebellious and lethal, and tells an unbelievable tale of magic and betrayal that threatens to rock the carefully cultivated foundations of Dallin's world. Leery and only half-believing, Dallin finds himself questioning not only his own conscience and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him, including those who hold the power of his own country’s fate in their hands.

Add your review of "Aisling Book One: Guardian" in comments!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Comment Challenge Day 14 Check In! Two Weeks Of Building Community!

So, how's it going?

Our randomly selected winner from last week's check-in was commenter #23, storied cities! Congratulations! She won "I'm Not" by Pam Smallcomb, her choice of the prizes!

And remember, comment here to let MotherReader and I know how you're doing, get re-energized and inspired, and be entered in our second random prize drawing!

Look over the comments of your fellow community members - people are seeing the difference. Feeling the difference. There's an engagement and a growing sense of community, each and every comment, each and every day.

You're making it happen. We're making it happen!

So let's keep going!

How am I doing? Well, I got caught up this week, with 73 comments clocked in so far (today, day 14, you should hit 70 comments to stay on-track with the 5-a-day average.) And I did better than last week, commenting on every day but one. This week I'm aiming to be more consistent, to make it a daily habit!

So yeah, I guess I'm getting back into the habit of commenting - and like MotherReader said so wisely last week, reading blog posts with the intent to comment really changes how I'm reading!

Tell us how you're doing by leaving a comment here!

Namaste, and keep commenting!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jennifer Besser: The Exclusive SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview!

Jennifer Besser

Jennifer Besser is the Publisher of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group. Prior to joining Putnam in April 2010, Jennifer was an Executive Editor at Disney Hyperion, and before that, she got her start in publishing at Miramax Books. And her very first job was at age 11, selling popsicles on Venice Beach. She much prefers her current gig.

Jennifer manages a stellar team of editors and also edits children’s books for all ages, from picture books to young adult fiction. She is the editor of Rick Riordan’s #1 New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as the Red Pyramid.

Books Jennifer Besser Has Edited Include:

Super Chicken Nugget Boy and the Furious Fry

The Lightning Thief

Karma for Beginners

She has had the great pleasure of working with incredible talent, including Melissa de la Cruz, Ally Carter, Jonathan Stroud, Brian Selznick, Ann Martin, Laura Godwin, John Rocco, Adam Gopnik, and many others.

Jennifer will be doing three breakout sessions on Saturday January 29 on "What Makes Your Work Publishable: Today's Market in Children's Books," and as an editor and publisher, it will be fascinating to hear what she's got to say. I'm excited to hear her at the conference, and delighted she took the time to answer some pre-conference questions here.

Lee: Hi Jennifer! So many not-yet-published writers attend conferences hoping to be "discovered." To make that connection with an editor, or agent, who will fall in love with their writing and get their career rolling. From your perspective, as an editor and publisher, what are your hopes going into the upcoming SCBWI Winter Conference in New York?

Jennifer: My hope going in is that I can in some way make the “publishing world” seem a little less massively impersonal and inscrutable. Of course, it’s the work that gets you there in the end... but sometimes it’s nice to have a conversation about “there” that demystifies things a bit. I hope that conversation is what my sessions will be. And yes, I’m forever on the look out for new talent.

Lee: It's funny how tongue-tied we authors can get when someone finally asks us, "so, what are you writing?" Besides having an answer to that ready to go, are there any specific titles you've edited that we should read, or other preparation you'd suggest for attendees to get the most out of your session in particular and the conference overall?

Jennifer: My general homework advice is always the same -- read as much as you can, especially in the category you want to publish into. Spend some time poking around your local bookstore. Pay attention to how books are categorized and shelved. Notice which titles you gravitate towards and why, and spy on, er, observe, your fellow shoppers. For those attending my sessions, I don’t have any specific titles to assign, but definitely spend some time thinking about any questions I can help answer.

Lee: With the changes in the world of children's publishing, is it more important than ever for writers to have literary agents? Of the deals you made in 2010, what percent of those were agented versus not agented?

Jennifer: Having an agent is very important, and has been for some time now. Of the deals I made in 2010, at least 95% of them were agented, and most years it’s 100%.

Lee: You acquire and edit picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels - do you feel that authors need to focus on one age bracket and genre to better "brand" themselves?

Jennifer: No. Worrying over “branding” yourself is a waste of time, just one more distraction to pull your attention from the real work of writing. While it’s that rare and enviable author who can successfully and ingeniously create work across categories (is there anything Meg Rosoff can’t do?!), as an editor, I’d never dissuade a writer from experimenting in a new genre, as long as it was the story they wanted to tell. Focus on figuring out what you love to write and write to your strengths.

Lee: New York City in January is Winter Wonderland weather. Imagine you have an entire afternoon to yourself to read anything you want - no responsibilities, just a cozy spot by a crackling fire, a view of lights twinkling in central park, a mug of fancy hot chocolate and a book. What will you read?

Jennifer: Ooooh, there are so many good books in my must-read pile right now. Last night, I started a novel I absolutely love already — Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! I’m a huge fan of Melina Marchetta and can’t wait to finally read Finnikin of the Rock. And I have an ARC of Melissa de la Cruz’s new adult novel, Witches of East End, burning a hole in my book bag!

Thanks so much, Jennifer!

I'm excited to hear Jennifer speak at her breakout session during the conference, and looking forward to the entire experience!

If you want to join Jennifer, and Mo Willems, and Lois Lowry, and myself and the rest of SCBWI Team Blog at the Conference, you can still register!

And if you're planning to be there or not, make sure to check out SCBWI Team Blog's Official SCBWI Conference Blog, where we'll be giving a tapas-like sampling of all the great things the conference holds... But there's nothing like being there yourself!

Hope to see you in New York!


Monday, January 17, 2011

A Writer of Gay Romance Comes Out... And Discovers What It Means to "Own Yourself"

I came upon this and had to share it with you all.

C. Zampa is a woman writing in a community where she felt she had to hide the fact that her book is about a romance between two gay men. As the book publication date grew closer, she realized she couldn't continue to hide - she couldn't continue to be closeted about her book... and she came out! (that's a link to her coming-out blog post!)

I think it's a really good reminder that the idea of hiding and passing and pretending and keeping the truth of who you are and what (and who) you care about isn't just something Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning people deal with - or just something our allies might imagine.

The challenge for all of us on our life journeys is to be authentic.

I'm so proud of C. Zampa for coming out and being real.

And I hope her story inspires others to be real about themselves, too.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The 2011 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award goes to "Almost Perfect" by Brian Katcher!

The Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award is now given annually to "English-language children's and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience."

The 2011 winner, announced this week, is:

"Almost Perfect," written by Brian Katcher,

Four honor books were selected:
"will grayson, will grayson," written by John Green and David Levithan (which was also an honor book for the Odyssey Award for being one of the best audiobooks produced for children and/or young adults!)
"Love Drugged," written by James Klise
"Freaks and Revelations," written by Davida Willis Hurwin
"The Boy in the Dress," written by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake.

It's pretty exciting that really great books with GLBTQ content and characters are now included in the American Library Association's announcements of the top books for children and young adults published last year!

So, if you've been wondering WHICH books to read first out of the hundreds listed on this website, these five would be a great place to start!

Enjoy, and Namaste,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freaks and Revelations - A Gay Teen Novel

By Davida Wills Hurwin

Thrown out of his parents' home for being gay, 13 year old Jason is living on the streets, hustling and trying to survive.

Doug is 17, living with an abusive dad and a racist family... and is pretty much addicted to violence.

There's a hate crime, where Doug thinks he's killed Jason. But he hasn't.

Told in alternating voices of the two characters, "this tragic but ultimately inspirational journey of two polarized teens, their violent first meeting, and their peaceful reunion years later is an unforgettable story of survival and forgiveness."

While it's fiction, it's
"inspired by the real lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal, who have shared their story on The Oprah Winfrey Show and NPR."

Add your review of "Freaks and Revelations" in comments!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Comment Challenge Day 7 check-in. How's the Commentidigitation going?

Okay, we're seven days in - one week, a third of the distance to a new community-building habit of 5 comments on kid lit blogs a day. And MotherReader and I have a few questions for you:

So, how are you doing?

Are you finding your rhythm?

Are you finding lots of new (to you) blogs you love?

Are you being found?

Are you commenting more than usual?

Are you feeling connected?

And, most important, are you having fun?

I hope the answer to all the above is YES, but the most important question is "are you having fun?" Because really, you're in the world of children's publishing because of your passion for it, so blog-hopping and commenting in our virtual community shouldn't feel like work.

Rather, imagine it's like a fun cocktail party, with lots of great conversations going on that you can bounce around and among without offending anyone - and you don't have to get trapped into staying and listening to someone go on and on about their fifteen volume 80,000 word picture book series on yeast, and how they expect to direct the motion picture... You can just click on over to the next conversation, which of course will resonate deeply with you, and comment there with passion and elan! Or just say, Yeah! Why do they keep doing that to poor Huck Finn?

Here's my own report card:

Okay, I wish I could wow you all with some amazing feat of commentidigitation (a new term I just coined for capturing the magic of commenting) and be an inspiration... but frankly, I think I'm an inspiration of a different sort - of the reality that finding the time to comment on blogs is indeed a challenge. Out of the past six days, I found that time on three of them. Each of those days I did really well, with 6, 6, and 7 comments respectively. The other days, not even one comment. Sigh. But, I am thinking about commenting more, and today is still young... I may make this a commenting day yet! So, not quite a habit yet, but my sticky note is by my computer, and it's on my mind.

How did you do? Let me know here in comments. And remember, commenting here also gets you in the running for a random prize drawing!

So if you're going great, keep it up. If you need to up your numbers like I do, be inspired by how much great stuff is out there. Either way, comment away!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lois Lowry: An Exclusive SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview

One of the super-exciting things about the upcoming SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, January 28-30, 2011 is that Lois Lowry will be speaking there. (And YES, you can still register!)

Lois Lowry

Born in Hawaii, Lois Lowry has lived all over the world and now divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and a 1768 farmhouse in Maine. Her list of fiction includes 36 books for young people. Twice the recipient of the Newbery Medal - in 1990 and 1994 (for the Middle Grade novels "Number The Stars" and "The Giver")

"Number The Stars"
Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Winner of the 1990 Newbery Medal

"The Giver"
Middle Grade Dystopian Fantasy
Winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal

Lois has received countless other honors for her work. In recent years she has traveled extensively, speaking to children in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia about the importance of literature and imagination in their lives. She is a mother and grandmother and has worked as a photojournalist as well as a writer of fiction. She even has a blog!

Lois Lowry's latest historical fiction middle grade novel,

"Anastasia Krupnik"
(the first in the Middle Grade series)

Lois will be giving the opening Keynote address for the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City on Saturday, January 29, 2011. She's a master of so many styles; historical fiction, dystopian fantasy, and amazing, heart-tugging fiction - both as series and as stand-alone novels. She's also a brilliant speaker. Go here to download and read her Newbery Medal acceptance speech for "The Giver" - it's amazing! I can't wait to listen and learn from her at the conference, and I'm especially thrilled that she agreed to answer a few questions pre-conference, to further whet our appetites for all the insights and inspiration to come!

Lee: Hi Lois! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. Let's jump right in: You've won the Newbery Medal twice! How do you face the blank page differently as "an award winning author" than when you started out and were still hoping to be published?

Lois: I don’t think there is a single difference. In fact, I’ll go farther and be more blunt: if you start thinking of yourself as “an award winning author” then you are in serious trouble. The only way a writer should face a blank page is with a sense of adventure and curiosity. You should face it as a new writer every single time, and with the same passion for the work, respect for the craft, and awareness of your limitations.

Lee: Anastasia Krupnik often times is frustrated by not being able to transcend her developmental age, like when she is alarmed that she begins to hate her parents. When you were growing up, did you feel trapped by your own age and the expectations adults and others had for people in your age group?

Lois: I’m thinking of myself at 12 and 13. What I felt trapped and frustrated by was my own gawkiness, my own self-consciousness, my own timidity. But I was aware that that was exterior stuff (and I probably knew that I would outgrow it eventually). I never felt limited or trapped in terms of creativity or intellectual curiosity; and in retrospect I think I did (privately) transcend my developmental age in those areas. Even at a young age, long before I had any tools for expressing it, I felt ageless and powerful in my imagination.

Lee: In "Number The Stars," which is the first Holocaust book in many U.S.A. school curriculums, you quite brilliantly made us as readers feel the danger to Ellen and the Rosens - the characters' fear that the Nazis would catch them, and Annemarie's heroism in trying to save the day by racing to the dock with the secret package - without ever going into too much horrible detail about genocide or the whole-scale murder of Jews. At one point at the end, Annemarie's uncle tells her that she had saved Ellen's life, but that's really all we hear as readers. And yet you do have the assassinations of other characters revealed to Annemarie. When dealing with really hard issues like murder and death, how do you find that delicate balance about what's enough to share with a middle grade audience, and what's too much?

Lois: I never look at that issue from an objective point of view. I suppose the editor or publisher does. But I enter the story by entering the consciousness of the protaganist, and so I see what she (in this case, Annemarie in Number the Stars) sees, understand what she understands. I was dealing in this book with actual events. A ten year old child in those circumstances would not have had any knowledge of horrific events taking place elsewhere; she would have known nothing of genocide, nothing beyond her childlike comprehension that the Jews were in great danger from the Nazis. Of course what happened in Denmark was unique, and the focus of the story was on the integrity of the Danish people, not on atrocities that were happening in other countries at the time. It’s what has made the book a popular introduction to a difficult topic.

But to address the same question in regard to others of my books...I think I always approach topics, and how I deal with them, through the perceptions of the young protaganist, and therefore by extension the young reader. If the person in the book is facing can, too. That’s the way I look at it.

Lee: "The Giver" has an ambiguous ending... And in your Newbery acceptance speech you said:

"Those of you who hoped that I would stand here tonight and reveal the “true” ending, the “right” interpretation of the ending, will be disappointed. There isn’t one. There’s a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes."

The ending feels very European versus American, and challenging in that it requires a lot of the reader in an ocean of media that requires very little of them. Do you feel there's a lesson from your experience with taking this path for other children's book writers?

Lois: It would be presumptuous of me to assume that anything I do should set an example for other writers, or view my experience as a lesson for anyone else. We all have our own styles, our own way of dealing with the intricacies of our work. I guess I tend to like making demands of my readers. Make them think. Make them suffer a little! It makes them my partners, as we work together on something. But it doesn’t mean every writer should go about it that way. And I do know, from the mail I receive, that young readers don’t always like having to work! They want me to spell it out, explain it, tell it to them. But they’ll have to go to another writer for that, I think.

Lee: What's the best piece of advice you have received regarding your career as a writer?

Lois: A professor at Brown told me, when I was seventeen, that I needed to suffer more. I’ve been working at it ever since.

HA! Thank you, Lois. I'm going to be thinking a lot about how "suffering" might just be something good... for our characters, our stories, our readers, and maybe even our own ability to be writers!

I hope you, too, will get to hear Lois Lowry in person and partake of all the fabulousness of the SCBWI Winter Conference!

And remember to bookmark and/or follow the Official SCBWI Conference Blog, authored by myself and the rest of the remarkable SCBWI Team Blog. We're Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekley, Martha Brockenbrough, Suzanne Young and me, and we're led by Alice Pope, who writes the indispensible Alice Pope's SCBWI Children's Market Blog!



ps: photo of Lois Lowry by Nadine Lowry

Monday, January 10, 2011

This Was Inspiring! 17 year old Zach Thinks That Anti-Gay Protests At Funerals Is Wrong... And He's Doing Something About It!

Check this out:

Zach's a high school student who found out about the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas, 70 hate-filled people who roam the country with giant protest signs saying that the deaths of U.S. Soldiers, and hurricanes, and (fill in the blank for bad events that happen in the U.S.A.) are God's way of punishing our country for our "tolerance of homosexuality."

The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, do it for the media attention, and I've seen them over the years at different Gay Pride Rallies, penned in and spewing their anti-Gay vitriol. Sometimes, people yell back. Sometimes, they use humor to make their point (like Chris Pesto's amazing "Corduroy Skirts are a Sin" counter-protest!) Sometimes, people sing to drown them out.

And this time, one teen is standing up and saying, Enough. Let's stop this.

Now there's a case being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court about these anti-Gay protests at military funerals where the issue is the balance of the haters' right to free speech versus how much pain that speech can cause. Many people believe that even though the speech may be horrible, the restriction of free speech is a bad road to go down.

Here's Zach's take on it, as reported in The Portland Press Herald,

"Yes, people do have the right to free speech," he said. "But when it starts infringing on somebody else's right, such as the right to gather peacefully, and when the words that they're spreading are harassment and hate speech, that's a First Amendment violation as far as I'm concerned."

I love that analysis. And I hope the Supreme Court Justices agree.

Zach is already getting threatening hate-e-mails from the Westboro church, harassing him for speaking up against them in his school, on TV and in meetings he's organized.

I want to tell Zach that he's inspiring me - and everyone who hears his story - to realize that each one of us has the power to speak up and work to make our world a better place.

Thanks, Zach!


Friday, January 7, 2011

My Speaker Visit Website Is UP!

So I've been posting on this blog over the past few months that I've been visiting schools and groups to present Safe Space Assemblies and Smashing Stereotypes Workshops. To put all the information about those speaker visits in one place, today I launch my Lee Wind Speaker Visit Website!

You'll be able to link to it in the right hand column of this blog under "About Me," but for now, allow me to show it to you:

There's a Lee Wind Speaker Visit home page:

A Safe Space Assemblies page:

A Smashing Stereotypes Workshop page:

A page that's well... all about me:

And a contact/rates page:

I tried to cover the bases, and get all the information on my speaker visits (even Skype visits!) organized and accessible.

I'm excited about it. Thanks for letting me share!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Third Annual COMMENT CHALLENGE Begins Today!

Hi Everyone, and welcome to the first day of a completely NEW way to be part of the community of bloggers about Children's Literature.

For the next 21 days, MotherReader and I challenge YOU to leave 5 comments a day on different blogs that you read.

Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and the habit we're going for is engagement in our COMMUNITY.

How do you find the blogs?

Here are five tried and true ways to get to 5 comments a day:

1. Blog leap-frog. Go to a blog, like this one, or MotherReader's. Scan the links list of blogs we love, and click on over. Then, click on THAT blog's links to the blogs they love. You'll get to five fast!

2. Dive into the amazing resource of the Bloggers' Carnival of Children's Literature - check out the links to past blog posts and look at the current posts as well!

Here's December's hosted by Lori Calabrese

November, hosted by Wendy Wax

and check out all the carnivals, past and present - and think about submitting your own article for January's carnival here, at Anastasia Suen's Carnival of Children's Literature Information Hub.

3. Do a google blog search on a topic that fascinates YOU. Go here.

4. Browse the extensive blog lists over at KidLitosphere Central's member pages, with lists of:
Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature,
Author and Illustrator Blogs,
and Publisher/Editor/Group Blogs.
It's an amazing resource.

5. Check out the list of fellow Comment Challenge participants at the sign-in post over at MotherReader's. These are your fellow kid lit bloggers, and it would be great to spread the commenting love in the group!

What do you say in a comment?

Don't get caught up in the feeling that you have to craft an entire essay in response to a blog post. If a certain point the blogger made resonated for you, that's great to share. If you agree, or (respectfully) disagree, that's great to share as well. The idea is to engage in a conversation - to say, yeah, I hear you. Thanks for telling us what you think - here's what I think...

What's in it for you?

The benefits of participating in The Comment Challenge:

1. You'll discover a lot of great new blogs that interest you.

2. More people will discover YOUR blog (two or three good comments will have people clicking back to see what you blog about!)

3. You'll feel more connected with the community of children's literature bloggers - and over the course of being part of this challenge, it will become YOUR community, too!

4. There will even be some prizes! Including random winners pulled from commenters who check in at the one- and two-week marks here! (Look for those posts, January 12 and January 19)

So what are you waiting for? Go check out some amazing children's literature blogs, and start tallying up your comments...

Just click on over to MotherReader and leave us a comment saying you're "IN" and taking the challenge.

And hey, if you comment here as well, you'll only have 3 more comments to go for today!

Join us!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Desmond and Garrick (Book One) - A Gay Teen Historical Fantasy Comedy!

by Hayden Thorne

It's 1815 when Garrick signs on as a tutor for Desmond, the youngest son of the Hath­aways, a vampire family living in Yorkshire.

Desmond is heartsick at another boy's rejection of him at school, and isn't a willing student.

Then Desmond's older brother returns from Italy with Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a vampire poet who seems to detest Desmond and holds secrets that - for Desmond and Garrick - could change everything. Did I mention the grumpy family magician?

Add your review of "Desmond And Garrick: Book One" in comments!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mo Willems: An Exclusive SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview!

One of the super-exciting things coming up is the SCBWI Winter Conference, January 28-30, 2011. (You can still register!) Among the galaxy of kid lit stars there will be Mo Willems!

Mo Willems!

Mo Willems, author/illustrator of:


Mo Willems’ work in children’s books, animation, television, theater, and bubble gum card painting has garnered him 3 Caldecott Honors, 2 Geisel Medals, 2 Carnegie Medals, 6 Emmys, and multiple bubble gum cards. Upcoming non-bubble gum card projects include Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator, a portrait of the relationship between a girl and her stuffed alligator told in 6-1/2 stories. More information about Mo’s past, present, and future can be gleamed at Mo will be part of an incredible panel on Sunday January 30th, "Look Who's Laughing: How To Do Funny For Young Readers and Why" that's sure to have us all cracking up... and thinking!

I'm excited to learn and be inspired by Mo at the conference, and thrilled that he agreed to answer a few pre-conference questions!

Lee: Hi Mo! Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk. Let's jump right in. Do you think humor in writing and illustrating is a craft that can be honed and improved, or is being funny an innate "talent" that you either have or don't have?

Mo: The word “Talent” derives from the Lower-Swabian for “worked harder than the others”.

Lee: Ha! As a writer and illustrator, you straddle both sides of the creative divide... do you think there are lessons from "thinking like an illustrator" that even stick-figure-drawing writers like myself might learn?

Mo: Creating picture books is a form of architecture constructed by page turns and the interrelationship between word and image. How can you tell if a drawing makes a word irrelevant (or vice-versa) without trying it out first?* Think of it as constructing a model of your building. If you don’t bother to do that, I suspect you’ll be stuck trying to cover over the cracks in its foundation with a veneer of superfluous words.

*Ex: I illustrated City Dog, Country Frog for myself before I gave Jon Muth the (greatly reduced and improved) manuscript. I simply never showed it to him or anyone else.

Lee: You've published picture books and easy readers, board books, short stories, even an illustrated memoir... and been amazing at it all! Do you feel it's important to get "established" writing and/or illustrating for one age bracket/category before branching out - in terms of building a "brand," or is that not something we merely human types should worry about?

Mo: “Branding” is what you do to cattle. Being true to your sensibility and open to new challenges is what you do to build a career. I trust my audience will allow me to follow my evolving interests if I continue to give them my best efforts when I do.

Also, there is a distinct advantage in fearing neither work nor failure.

Lee: What's the best piece of advice you've gotten in terms of writing and illustrating for children?

Mo: I have 3 that I’ve culled from the years:

1. Never fall in love with a drawing (this applies doubly so to words).

2. An assignment: either describe the descent of a single raindrop in 5,000 drawings (or words) or describe the sack of Byzantium in three.

3. Buy an electric pencil sharpener. Use it.

Lee: New York's pretty cold in the winter, but the SCBWI conference is always piping hot with community and inspiration. Any pointers on getting the most out of attending a SCBWI conference?

Mo: Have a great time, enjoy NYC and all it has to offer, get jazzed by all of the frenetic passion of those around you, but please don’t ask writers and illustrators how to get published. It’s like asking a beverage truck driver the secret formula for Coke. Our uninformed answers will have no value to you. But more importantly, all of the practical aspects of our work (bending from the knees, parallel parking, and gear shifting) is so much more interesting.

Wow! Thanks so much, Mo. I learned a lot, and already feel (gosh, I've said it three times in this interview!) inspired.

If you want to get to hear Mo in person and partake of all the fabulousness of the SCBWI Winter Conference, come join us!

And remember to bookmark and/or follow the Official SCBWI Conference Blog, authored by myself and the rest of the remarkable SCBWI Team Blog. We're Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekley, Martha Brockenbrough, Suzanne Young and me, and we're led by Alice Pope, who writes the indispensible Alice Pope's SCBWI Children's Market Blog!



Monday, January 3, 2011

It's 2011! My New Year's Resolution About Success

Happy New Year, Everyone! I'm excited to be back, and can't wait to share with you my New Year's Resolution - it's one I hope you join me on:

We get snookered in our culture into believing that "success" looks like one thing: money, fame, grand achievement that lands you in

a) Time
b) Newsweek
c) People Magazine
d) your own reality TV show.

I think that in our focus on achieving our long-term "dreams" - be it selling our first book, or graduating high school, or finding true love, or circumnavigating the globe - we forget about the success we already own, that we've already created for ourselves, each day of our journey.

Sitting down to creatively express yourself in words makes you a success as a writer.

Posting a blog entry that communicates what you need to share makes you a success as a blogger.

Loving someone and being loved as well makes that relationship a success.

Working out and feeling good is a success in enjoying and taking care of your body.

Setting boundaries with difficult people in your life and honoring yourself by sticking to those boundaries.

Each step you take towards achieving your long-term goal. Going to a writer's conference (like the upcoming 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City!) Or, if you're in school, learning something cool (like that Shakespeare was bisexual!)

Participating and being part of a community - like commenting on blogs in the kidlitosphere. In fact, get ready because The 2011 Comment Challenge will be starting this Thursday, January 6, 2011, and for 21 days MotherReader and I will be challenging people who read children's literature blogs to leave 5 comments a day and create a new habit of engagement and community!

Loving and accepting yourself for all of who you are - quirky, unique, wonderful YOU - makes you a success. Right now.

SUCCESS IS every day, being YOU. (And for me, being ME.)

So as we go forward into this New Year of 2011, and we have our sights set and our plans in place for achieving our long term goals, let's resolve to remember and appreciate, every day, how much success we have already achieved!

Our year ahead, all 365 glorious days, can be filled with this real, daily success.

Please share one of your daily successes!

My thanks to Frank for reminding me just how much each day is filled with success, if we just remember to acknowledge it.