Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Press Kit!

Hi Community and media,

Happy to share these downloadable files with you:

"Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" cover high resolution (CMYK for print)

"Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" cover low resolution (RGB for web)

Lee Wind author photo high resolution (CMYK for print)

Lee Wind author photo low resolution (RGB for web)

"Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Tip Sheet with Author Interview

“This powerful novel . . . belongs in every library that serves teens.”
—Yapha Mason, school librarian and two-time Newbery Medal judge

Insightful... valuable... Fascinating information about Lincoln and Speed is also bound to spark curiosity... Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill is a sympathetic novel that will change the way young readers look at history and the lessons it has to teach.”
Foreword Reviews

This one should get people talking! I hope this book . . . finds the large audience it deserves.”
—Brent Hartinger, author of 12 novels, including the groundbreaking Gay teen novel Geography Club


Inspired by real historical evidence that Abraham Lincoln was in love—romantic love—with another man, this debut YA novel was too controversial for traditional publishing. Crowdfunded in six days with a successful Kickstarter campaign that ultimately 182 backers supported, QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL asks LGBTQ teens (and everyone else), What if you knew a secret from history that could change the world?

Wyatt is 15, and nobody in his homophobic small town of Lincolnville, Oregon, knows that he’s Gay. Not even his best friend (and accidental girlfriend) Mackenzie. Then he discovers a secret from actual history: Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy! Since everyone loves Lincoln, Wyatt’s sure that if the world knew about it, they would treat Gay people differently and it would solve everything about his life. So Wyatt outs Lincoln online, triggering a media firestorm that threatens to destroy everything he cares about—and he has to pretend more than ever that he’s straight. . . . Only then he meets Martin, who is openly Gay and who just might be the guy Wyatt’s been hoping to find.

Lee Wind is the founding blogger and publisher of I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?, an award-winning website about books, culture, and empowerment for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning, and Queer youth, and their Allies. For over 10 years, readers from 100-plus countries have racked up 2.4 million page views—and counting!

In his “Clark Kent” jobs, Lee is the director of marketing and programming at the Independent Book Publishers Association and the official blogger for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Lee lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their teenage daughter. QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL is his debut novel.

by Lee Wind
I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?
On sale: October 2, 2018
978-1-7322281-0-8 (Hardcover) | $25.99
978-1-7322281-1-5 (Paperback) | $13.99
978-1-7322281-2-2 (eBook) | $6.99
Ages 14 & Up

Press / Events

Two-Page "Bringing History Into the Light: An Indie Success Story" feature article in Publishers Weekly Sept 24, 2018.

An Amazing Shout Out to "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" in the Santa Monica Daily Press

Lee interviewed on "Star Style Be The Star You Are with Cynthia Brian" radio program October 3, 2018

Lee on Lambda LitFest "Crowdfunding Queer Lit" Panel on October 1, 2018

"Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" featured in Publishers Weekly

Lee signs ARCs at 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans

Lee's ignite session 5-minute video from IBPA's Publishing University

Lee speaks (and reads from an ARC of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill") at Pasadena City College

Lee on the One Bad Mother Podcast


Why this book?

Lee Wind: I wrote the book that would have changed my life if I’d read it when I was a teen. I spent so many years hiding who I really was and what I really felt. As a teen, I dated girls and judged it the right thing to do—it was what my parents wanted, what society expected—but I didn’t feel what I was supposed to feel. I kept hoping those feelings would come, but they didn’t. Finally, in my twenties, I accepted the truth, started to love myself for me, and came out as a Gay man.

Fast-forward to 2010: I went to a talk by Randy Harrison, and he mentioned the letters Abraham Lincoln wrote to Joshua Fry Speed, letters that Randy said proved Abraham was in love with Joshua. And I was like, “That can’t be true. I would have heard of it.” But I couldn’t shake the idea, that What if . . . ? So I went to the library and got out all these books of primary source materials, and I read the letters.

There’s this one where Joshua has been married to a woman for eight months, and Abraham writes him and asks, “Are you now in feeling as well as judgment, glad that you are married as you are? From anybody but me this would be an impudent question, not to be tolerated, but I know you will pardon it in me.” Lincoln closes by asking Joshua to answer him quickly, saying he’s impatient to know. We don’t have the response, but we do know that it was only weeks later that Abraham married Mary Todd. Boom! I read it, and I was like, “That’s me! That was how I felt dating girls . . . ,” and then goose bumps rose up all over my body. Maybe Lincoln really was in love with Speed. Maybe they were like me after all—maybe they were Gay, too!

As I did more research, I discovered more evidence, until I became convinced that Abraham and Joshua were in love.

And I kept thinking, If I’d known back when I was fifteen that Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy, it would have changed my whole life. He’s on Mount Rushmore. He’s on the penny. He’s on the five-dollar bill!

I don’t have a time machine to go back and tell this secret from history to myself, but I can pay it forward. So I wrote this novel, where Wyatt, a fifteen-year-old closeted boy who’s dating a girl but not feeling what he knows he’s supposed to feel, stumbles on the very same letter Lincoln wrote Speed—in judgment but not in feeling—and I gave Wyatt that same goose-bump moment of revelation I had. And then Wyatt decides to tell the world.

The idea is to share this story—and the secret from history that inspired it—with teens today. And I hope it can help empower them to be authentic now.

Why crowdfunding?

LW: [Laughs.] It wasn’t my first choice. But when you’re being preemptively banned, that’s a good reason to self-publish. Except it’s not really self-publishing. Sure, I’m the publisher and the author, but there’s a whole team of people working with me to professionally publish this book: a famous editor; a cover designer; a book designer; a copy editor; a proofreader; production, print, and distribution service people; early reviewers; everyone at my nonprofit partner, Camp Brave Trails; and, of course, the 182 Kickstarter backers who helped fund publishing and donating 810 copies to LGBTQ and Allied teens!

How can something about history change the world?

I grew up thinking there were no Gay people besides me—certainly no one important was Gay. Certainly no one in my history books. But it turns out that’s not true! History has been sanitized to “protect” young people from knowing there were men who loved men, and women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries, across time and around the world. Abraham Lincoln being in love with Joshua Fry Speed is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and it’s a great place to start!

Imagine if we can shift the cultural conversation so that teens know the story of Lincoln loving Speed—that’s the first crack in the false facade of history as it’s taught to young people: that everyone important was a cisgendered, rich, white, heterosexual man. Not everyone great was cisgendered and straight! Or Caucasian, or wealthy, or a man, either.

And once we let light in through that first crack, history becomes a lighthouse, shining with a prism of LGBTQ stories!

Lincoln? You really believe he was Gay?

Yes. In fact, everything that Wyatt finds out about Lincoln in the novel is real—there’s an extensive endnotes section at the end of the book. And there was more evidence that didn’t really fit in the novel, which is why there’s a whole other nonfiction book for teens I’m working on next, The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?, where Lincoln and Speed being in love is just one of fifteen true stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries.

It’s packed with primary source materials and presents the evidence. We know what traditional historians say. They’re all CSI History, “Can you prove this person had sex with that person?” I think that’s the wrong question. I want to shine a light on history through a different lens—who was in love with whom, and how might that have changed what they accomplished?—and then let young people decide for themselves what they think.

The cover of QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL asks readers a question: What if you knew a secret from history that could change the world? How would you answer that?

That’s an easy one. I’d write this book. And then, I’d publish it.

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