Friday, January 31, 2014

Transgender Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Sharing Their Stories

As reported in the Los Angeles Times in a fascinating article by Emily Alpert Reyes,

"Thousands of teens and twentysomethings who are transgender — identifying with a gender that is different than their sex at birth – have turned to YouTube as a kind of public diary. As they start taking hormones or using new names, many are documenting their journeys on video, baring their souls and revealing their changing faces to strangers online.
Their videos tell stories that were once routinely hidden: Transgender people were told to abandon their old lives and craft a new history after making their transition."

but today, many teens are

"embracing their transition as an essential and even celebrated part of their identity."

It's a public shout-out to authenticity, to the courage of being yourself and not hiding your journey. Each one of us, no matter how different we might feel, is not alone.

Just knowing the videos exist (kind of like my Gender 101 series of videos exploring Gender Queer identity) makes our world a better, safer, more celebrating-of-diversity place.

And that's a good thing.

You can check out the article here, and check out the video journals at youtube for two of the trans people featured in the article: Kat Blaque and Asher Zickert. (I couldn't find Niko Walker and Naomi Ngoy's youtube channels - if you know those links, add them in a comment and I'll fix that here. Thanks!)


Thanks to my husband and our friend Chris for sharing this article with me, so I could share it with all of you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Love In The Time Of Global Warming - A Teen Fantasy "Chockfull of LGBT Characters"

Love In The Time Of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

Thanks to my friend Lesley for letting me know about the novel's cast being "chockfull of LGBT characters." Add your review of "Love In The Time Of Global Warming" in comments!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Help PFLAG Out With This Quick Survey For Trans Allies, Family, and Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People

PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) is asking for help with their "Straight For Equality" Project, as they put together

"a new resource to invite, educate, and engage allies of people who are transgender and gender nonconforming"

Go here to check out the project, and add your voice!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Superior - A teen lesbian dystopian coming-of-age/adventure/romance Novella

Superior by Zoe Amos

After the Water Wars led to Civil War II, Superior Protectorate established itself in what is now Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Two young women, Miss Kristian and Miss Rhona, will soon be of marrying age, but that means being tied to a hustand instead of each other--a forbidden prospect. Powerless to change the rules of a nation that supposedly protects them, the young lovers are thrust into a perilous journey in their quest for freedom and a life together.

The author, Zoe, is also a blogger at Add your review of "Superior" in comments!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived - A Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was A Little Kid

The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived by Daniel Errico, illustrated by Mo Qovaizi

Cedric grows up a pumpkin farmer, dreaming of one day being a knight. Pretending with friends, he always saves the day, and is offered a flower by the rescued princess. He always kindly declines, just saying that isn't how the story ends.

Through brave adventures, Cedric's dreams come true - he ultimately becomes a knight, bests (but doesn't kill) a dragon, and saves royal siblings, a princess and a prince. And when the rescued princess asks to be his bride, we find out how Cedric's fairy tale truly ends.

A free video version of the picture book, being read, is here:

This book was published by the author, and how I wish it had been read to me when I was a little kid. Add your review of "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" in comments!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inspiration - Remember That Red and Pink Equality Logo Showing Support For Gay Marriage Being ALL Over Facebook Last Year?

I liked this piece at by Anastasia Khoo on how she came up with what Facebook has called "the most successful viral campaign in the history of the social media platform."

And I love the story of how it brought one family back together.

Anastasia Khoo is the marketing director for the LGBTQ-equality organization, the Human Rights Campaign

It's inspiring for each of us to think: What can I do to make our world a better place?


ps - Thanks to my husband for the heads-up on this story!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Other Me - A 15 Year Old Likes A Guy A Lot... Or Does She Want To BE A Guy?

The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she's an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn't find out she's a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

Add your review of "The Other Me" in comments!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brave Russian Man Arrested As He Holds Up A Rainbow Pride Flag As The Olympic Torch Goes Through His Hometown of Voronezh, Russia

Pavel Lebedev being detained by an Olympic security person (this photo ran with the AP/USA Today story, with the byline: Andrei Nasonov)

The Associated Press and USA Today are reporting that:

MOSCOW (AP) — A gay Russian protester was detained on Saturday [Jan 18, 2014] for unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay as it passed through his hometown of Voronezh, 560 miles north of Sochi, where the games will begin Feb. 7.

This story makes me think so much about how we all need to stand up when injustices happen - like Russia's new law where Gay people can't be openly themselves and where Russian youth aren't supposed to know LGBTQ people exist.

There are petitions you can sign to protest Russia's laws and actions, like this one to the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, and this one to Coca-Cola and all Olympic Sponsors.

You can also check out the Uprising of Love project (partnered with the It Gets Better Project and Google+) for discussions of what's going on in Russia, Athletes and LGBT Equality, LGBT youth and more!

I think the photo, of the security guy in his Olympic hat, holding Pavel who's clutching the Rainbow flag is powerful. Not a good publicity moment for Russia or the Olympics.

And I think each of us need to ask ourselves: In the same position, would I be as brave as Pavel?

I hope I would.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan - Justin's in 10th grade and he has a plan. A crazy, boy-crazy plan.

My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky

Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the "in" crowd sits.

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn't shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he's not gay; he's dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky's dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky's dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck's bound to find Justin irresistable, right? What could go wrong?

My thanks to Barbara for letting me know about this title. Add your review of "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan" in comments!

Monday, January 20, 2014


No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a middle-grade novel entitled The Misfits by popular author James Howe in which a group of students organize a "No Name-Calling Day" at school. Motivated by this simple, yet powerful idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, and consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools for the first time in 2004. The event is now held annually in schools nationwide.

Find out more at the GLSEN No Name-Calling Week website here.

James Howe has come out with other "companion" books for The Misfits: Totally Joe, Addie on the Inside, and coming up, Also Known As Elvis. Find out more about James and his books here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Marine Finally Gets The Apology - And the Honor - He Deserved, 58 Years After Being Kicked Out Of The Marines For Being Gay

This story by Frank Bruni in the NY Times, "One Marine's Dying Wish," is really moving, a reminder of the people behind the injustice, rights and the changing history of LGBTQ rights.

Hal Faulkner was 22 when he was discharged from the Marines after more than three years of proud service, because someone told his commanding officer he was gay.

Photos from the NY Times of Hal's days in the military

His discharge was called "“other than honorable” and those words - and that judgement - as Hal put it, "wrecked me."

Now that the law has changed and Gay, Lesbian and Bi people can serve openly in the US military, people previously discharged can appeal and have their discharges re-classified as "honorable."

Hal, dying of cancer, wanted that to happen before he died. And it did.

The photo in the NY Times of the ceremony where Hal's status was restored to an honorably discharged Marine

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Someplace North Of Here - A Gay Teen Travels over 2500 miles north to the most isolated and northern England City, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Someplace North Of Here by C.H. Lowe

George has made his way home to Tyneside, hoping to find a life more fulfilling than the one he left behind. But the town of his birth is very different to the island 'paradise' he once called home, and manhood, as this Boy will discover, is about more than doing a day's work or frequenting the local pub.

From boutique to bargain basement, stylish apartment to squalid houseshare, and happy ever after to the reality of falling in love, nothing is what the Boy expected. As George takes his first tentative steps on Tyneside, he meets a colourful cast of characters - from Ella, born in Shenzen but Geordie from her Vivienne Westwood heels to her perfectly coiffed crown. Then there is Lawrence, the older Man who will challenge this British lad to confront his own sexuality.

The lives of all three will be irrevocably altered as day-to-day existence in this constantly changing city forces them to make some tough choices.

The grass is not always greener on the other side, and life, even in this Town, is never black and white.

This book was published by the author. Add your review of "Someplace North Of Here" in comments!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Registration is Open for SCBWI Los Angeles' Writer's Days Conference 2014 (on March 22 and 23)

Visit the conference registration and information page

I'm really excited about this two day conference that I'm running as co-Regional Advisor of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Los Angeles chapter. (Well, me and my co-RA, Sarah Laurenson, our Assistant RA, Sally Jones Rogan, and a whole team of fellow volunteers.)

It will feature Katherine Applegate (who just won the Newbery Award for "The One And Only Ivan" and writes picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult) and Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson (whose presentations on plot are legendary!)

We'll also have young adult Novelist and Book-Buyer Catherine Linka (to tell us what every writer needs to know about retail book buying today) and middle grade Novelist and social media guru Greg Pincus on faculty.

There will be also two agents and an editor on faculty - all interested in finding new-to-them writers. Danielle Smith, Associate Agent at Foreword Literary Agents and Heidi Fiedler, Editor at both Teacher Created Materials (work-for-hire) and at Argosy Press (trade publishing) will present keynotes on Saturday. Jennifer Rofé, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, will round out our faculty on Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday - we'll have some amazing intensives:

PLOT TRACK with Martha Alderson: Develop a Multi-Layered Plot for your Middle Grade Fiction and Young Adult Novels

EDITOR TRACK with Heidi Fiedler: Work For Hire and Trade Publishing

AGENT PICTURE BOOK TRACK with Danielle Smith and Jennifer Rofé

AGENT NOVEL TRACK with Jennifer Rofé and Danielle Smith

There are contests, a first pages panel, one-one-one plot and social media consultations, and so much more - for all the information and to register visit:

If you write for kids or teens, I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Promise Me Something - A YA Novel with Surprise LGBTQ Content

Promise Me Something by Sara Kocek

Reyna didn’t mean to become friends with Olive Barton.

But when Olive kept talking after the lunch bell, Reyna didn’t say no, and she didn’t stop Olive when she followed her into the parking lot after school either. Olive is blunt, headstrong, and unapologetically honest—nothing like Reyna’s other friends, or anyone Reyna’s ever met. But as Reyna begins to drift apart from her childhood clique, she finds herself growing closer to Olive.

Then Olive tells Reyna her secret, which changes everything. And as Reyna weighs her choices, she must find the courage to decide what 
really matters… before she loses Olive forever.

This is the author's debut novel and it got a starred review in Kirkus. Add your review of "Promise Me Something" in comments!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Duncan's Bar Mitzvah Speech Inspires Me!

This 13 year old is brilliant!



What can YOUR voice do?

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in each one of you),

ps - thanks to my awesome husband for sharing this with me, so I can share it with all of you...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Out Of The Easy - In 1950s New Orleans, Josie wants more than to be the daughter of a prostitute (with a surprise gay character)

Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, 17-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in a police investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Should she avoid Jesse, the mysterious motorcycle boy? Can she trust Patrick, her best friend at the bookstore where she works? Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in a quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

I spoke with Ruta the summer before her book came out:

It's beautifully written, with characters that stay with you long after you've read their page-turning story. 

Add your review of "Out Of The Easy" in comments!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

This Is How You Say Goodbye - A Memoir Of A Daughter's Struggle to Make Sense Of Her Relationship With Her Gay Father Who Died Of AIDS When She Was A Child

This Is How You Say Goodbye by Victoria Loustalot

When Victoria was eight years old her father swept her up in a fantasy: a trip around the world. It was a grandiose plan and she had fallen for it. But it had never been so much as a possibility. Victoria’s father was sick. He was HIV positive and soon to fall prey to AIDS. Three years later he would be gone.

When Victoria realized that the grand trip with her father wasn’t going to happen, she was devastated. Her mother assumed she’d get over it, that eventually it would become just a shrug. But it didn’t. In the years to come, Victoria wondered what it would have been like to have been alone with her dad all those months, to see him outside of his sickness, beyond anything related to their family or their life. To have been with him in a new context. That’s what she wanted. And that’s what she did.

Some fifteen years after that initial promise, Victoria went to Stockholm, to Angor Wat, and to Paris. She went to the places they were meant to see together, and she went to make peace with her father, too. Because while he’d always be forty-four, she’d gone on accumulating birthdays. Every year, her understanding of him continued to evolve and their relationship was still alive. Victoria Loustalot felt trapped beneath all of the unanswered questions he left behind. She needed to be set free. She needed to say goodbye.

Add your review of "This Is How You Say Goodbye" in comments!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures In Raising A Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures In Raising A Fabulous, Gender Creative Son by Lori Duron

C.J. is gender variant or gender nonconforming, whichever you prefer. Whatever the term, Lori has a boy who likes girl stuff—really likes girl stuff. He floats on the gender-variation spectrum from super-macho-masculine on the left all the way to super-girly-feminine on the right. He's not all pink and not all blue. He's a muddled mess or a rainbow creation. Lori and her family choose to see the rainbow.

Lori's blog (the same title as the book) is great and very popular, read by over a million readers in more than 170 countries and is used in gender studies courses at over 35 colleges and universities.  

I'm enjoying reading the book, which feels poignant, honest, and important. It's an excellent resource for parents (and anyone who wants to get some insight into a gender-non-conforming child's life.)

Add your review of "Raising My Rainbow" in comments!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Seducer Fey - A New-Adult Paranormal Romance Where Gender Identity and Sexuality Are Fluid

Seducer Fey by Cullyn Royson

When the fairies of Celtic mythology are combined with genetic engineering, youth and charisma can be sold.

The mid-twenty-first century has brought about advancements for social justice and genetic engineering. Fluid gender identity and sexuality are widely accepted in society. The scientific quest for immortality is more popular than ever. Physical appeal, however, isn’t just about youthfulness. Any researcher who discovers the secret to charisma will make millions.

During a prospective college visit to Dalhousie University, Danny and her crush, Cassidy, are invited to the home of an eerily captivating student named Taban. There Danny learns that her DNA could be used to create a form of genetic therapy to give people longer lives for a hefty price. Danny’s life is at risk because her rights to her DNA would get in the way of this plan. Cassidy vows to protect her friend. Unfortunately for the two young women, Taban has other motives.

There are also two book trailers for this title you can check out, here and here. Add your review of "Seducer Fey" in comments!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Brilliant Video About How Women Face Double Standards (And How They Can't Let That Hold Them Back) - A GSA Mondays Post

We're back and it's 2014!

To get us started with today's GSA Monday post, this video about how women are perceived, as opposed to how men are, was really well done.

And the upworthiest post it was part of brought up that great study about how

"Business school students were given a case assignment on Heidi, a real-life successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. But there was a catch. Half of the class randomly received their case with one teensy tiny change made: The name "Heidi" was changed to "Howard." Afterward, the students were surveyed, and though Heidi and Howard were found equally competent (as they should have been because they are the same person), the students found Howard much more likeable."
You can find out more about the study in this great conversation Sheryl Sandberg (who's COO of Facebook and wrote the book "Lean In") had with Oprah.

Craziest thing - the video up top was an ad, for hair products! But I liked it, alot! Points to Pantene.

A great conversation-prompt to start the new year with, that's for sure.