Friday, July 19, 2019

If I Was Your Girl - A Trans Teen Starts Her New Life, But Struggles With Keeping Her Past A Secret



If I Was Your Girl By Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Add your review of "If I Was Your Girl" in comments!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - A 1700s Gay Teen Romp Through Europe



The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Add your review of "The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue" in comments!

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets - A Nonfiction History Told In Objects That I'm Really Excited About



The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets by Gayle E. Pitman

The Stonewall Riots was a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement. The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects.

In this interview over at the Children's Book Council Diversity Site, Gayle shares the research challenge and how she approached it:

“Researching Stonewall was incredibly difficult, because it’s hard to find accurate and credible information about it unless you know where to look. Fred Sargeant was so helpful in this endeavor. He pointed me towards the Craig Rodwell papers at the New York Public Library and the Foster Gunnison papers at the University of Connecticut library, and even went so far as to advise me on which folders in the collection held specific items. I also combed through archival materials at the New York LGBT Center, the ONE Archives at USC, the Museum of the City of New York, and other places. I interviewed people like Margot Avery, who was ten years old when the riots occurred, and watched them from her apartment building’s fire escape. I read books and watched documentaries. I visited New York City and went to the Stonewall Inn. I explored various sites, including where the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the Village Voice offices, STAR House were originally located. I even walked the route of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March. In order for me to share history authentically, it helps if I can get as close as I can to the experience.” —Gayle E. Pitman

Read the full interview here.

And add your review of "The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In The Streets" in comments!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Today: Be a Light For Liberty and Speak Out Against the Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at America's Borders

We must speak up. We must not be bystanders. We must be upstanders.

Stand up with me.

On Friday July 12th, 2019, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps, will bring thousands of people to locations worldwide as well as to concentration camps across the country, into the streets and into their own front yards, to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants.



Raise your voice. #lights4liberty #dontlookaway #endusconcentrationcamps

If you can't attend a protest in person, consider doing this:

At 9pm, please hold a candle and share a moment of silence. Together we will light up the world (and social media) to demand an end to human detention camps.


Find out more at LightsforLiberty.org

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Me Myself & Him - A Gay Teen Lives Two Separate Futures



Me Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or… not.

In an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal—until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist?

With musings on fate, religion, parallel universes, and the best way to eat a cinnamon roll, Me Myself & Him examines how what we consider to be true is really just one part of the much (much) bigger picture.

What's queer about it?

Author Chris Tebbetts explains that the main character (also named Chris) is gay, ”and while the inciting incident of the book is autobiographical, the rest of the book splits into two parallel and fictional outcomes from that same incident (parallel realities, a la “Sliding Doors”).” Author Chris shared further that the story isn't about the main character being gay, but that fictional Chris ”does confront a somewhat autobiographical issue for me—becoming the gay third wheel to his two straight best friends who hook up in their last summer before college.” Author Chris also let us know that fictional Chris does get a romance of his own.

Add your review of "Me Myself & Him" in comments!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah - Twin Teens Throw a High School Graduation Party (With LGBTQ Characters!)



Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends--and now they've prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn't know who's coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well...in rather surprising ways.

In the book, Sam is gay, and there's more LGBTQ goings-on, too.

Add your review of "Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah" in comments!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Learning Seventeen - a Teen Girl Trapped in a Baptist Reform School Falls For a Gorgeous Bad Girl



Learning Seventeen by Brooke Carter

New Hope Academy, or, as seventeen-year-old Jane Learning likes to call it, No Hope, is a Baptist reform school where Jane is currently being held captive.

Of course, smart, sarcastic Jane has no interest in reforming, failing to see any benefit to pretending to play well with others. But then Hannah shows up, a gorgeous bad girl with fiery hair and an even stormier disposition. She shows Jane how to live a full and fulfilling life even when the world tells you you're wrong, and how to believe in a future outside the "prison" walls. Jane soon learns, though, that Hannah is quietly battling some demons of her own.

Add your reviews of "Learning Seventeen" in comments!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I'm Quoted In The Philadelphia Inquirer!

It's a wonderful article by Abbey White, Why LGBTQ bookstores, such as Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room, are a lifeline for queer teens.




It speaks about the importance of LGBTQ bookstores for teens who need bookstores like Philly's Giovanni's Room as affirming community centers, as safe spaces... and that's where my quote fits in, talking about how the big online retailers aren't concerned with making their spaces safe for Queer people, especially Queer youth. (Which, not incidentally, is what motivated my starting this blog more than twelve years ago!)

You can read the full article here.

On a personal note, this is the newspaper I grew up seeing on the kitchen table every day... so being quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer is particularly exciting.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ruse - a Sci Fi Thriller in a Near-Future Shanghai with a Lesbian Teen Main Character



Ruse by Cindy Pon

In this sequel to Want, the team of teens fighting Jin Corp for a future where everyone—not just the rich—can breathe clean air are back. This time, Lingyi is one of the point of view characters! Here's the official synopsis:

Jason Zhou, his friends, and Daiyu are still recovering from the aftermath of bombing Jin Corp headquarters. But Jin, the ruthless billionaire and Daiyu’s father, is out for blood. When Lingyi goes to Shanghai to help Jany Tsai, a childhood acquaintance in trouble, she doesn’t expect Jin to be involved. And when Jin has Jany murdered and steals the tech she had refused to sell him, Lingyi is the only one who has access to the encrypted info, putting her own life in jeopardy.

Zhou doesn’t hesitate to fly to China to help Iris find Lingyi, even though he’s been estranged from his friends for months. But when Iris tells him he can’t tell Daiyu or trust her, he balks. The reunited group play a treacherous cat and mouse game in the labyrinthine streets of Shanghai, determined on taking back what Jin had stolen.

When Daiyu appears in Shanghai, Zhou is uncertain if it’s to confront him or in support of her father. Jin has proudly announced Daiyu will be by his side for the opening ceremony of Jin Tower, his first “vertical city.” And as hard as Zhou and his friends fight, Jin always gains the upper hand. Is this a game they can survive, much less win?

Add your review of "Ruse" in comments!

Friday, June 28, 2019

ALA Inspiration - Two Librarians Share Their Response to Complaints About Their Library's LGBTQ Pride Displays

I'm back from the American Library Association annual conference in Washington D.C., and one discussion among the more than 600 librarians I met really stands out. (By the way, that number is not an exaggeration, I was working at the IBPA booth on the exhibition floor representing over 260 books from our independent publisher members, and I scanned 606 badges over the four days.)

It was during my give-away of audiobook review copies of my YA novel, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill", for which I had a big diversity rainbow pride flag out on the signing table, rainbow pride flag bookmarks, and a sign about the giveaway with the same pride flag on it as well. I even had a little bust of Abraham Lincoln with some Gay Pride neck jewelry (courtesy of my brother John!) In short, for the times I was at the demo table, I was a lighthouse of LGBTQ inclusion.

And it worked as a lighthouse, drawing interested and allied folks near.

That's me, chatting with interested librarians about the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook at #alaac19


One librarian, Monena, told me about how she had a patron complain about a June pride display in their library. Her response? She thanked the patron for sharing their point of view, and then, "I went and added a dozen books to the display."

Another librarian overheard our conversation, and nodded. She had had a patron complaint about a pride display in one of their branch libraries as well. She smiled as she said, "so this year, we did pride displays in two more libraries."

That's the stuff of true allies.

And it's why I so appreciate and respect librarians!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

p.s. If you're a librarian, and you want a free review copy of the audiobook of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," simply email me your name along with your library name and location, and I'll send you a copy as well! 

leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com

I'm so excited about the audiobook (narrated by Michael Crouch, who also did the narration for "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda", and with a bonus author interview at the end where the legendary Lesléa Newman interviews me!) You can listen to the first two chapters here.




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm the Headliner for Episode 194 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast: “Five Dollar Bill,” Queer History and YA Lit with Lee Wind!

This is thrilling!


In this extended interview with Jeff Adams, we talk about LGBTQ history, research, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, its inspiration and characters, this blog, and so much more!

Being the featured guest on a podcast I listen to all the time is an amazing way to celebrate LGBTQ Pride!

I hope hearing about the Queer history we discuss is empowering, and that the podcast will be part of your LGBTQ Pride celebrations!

You can listen to the episode now at this link!

I'm very grateful to Jeff and Will for this opportunity to shine like a lighthouse for their listeners.

Enjoy the podcast!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee


Monday, June 24, 2019

Pride in the Window, or Hidden Away In the Back - A Tale Of Two Stores For LGBTQ Pride Month

I recently had two completely different shopping experiences, in the space of ten minutes.

The Kiehl's store, where I went to pick up the grapefruit bodywash that has changed my mind about scented products, had a diversity pride flag shining out from the three-foot tall statue of liberty decal across their front window.

The saleswoman and I chatted about my husband and teenage daughter, and how we all liked their products. She wished me a happy Gay Pride, excitedly telling me that this was the first year Kiehl's was marching in the Los Angeles Pride parade as well as in the New York City Pride parade. As she rang me up, she offered me two sheets of LGBTQ pride stickers, which included the image of Lady Liberty shining her diversity pride flag.

The amazing Kiehl's Diversity LGBTQ Pride Stickers!

I mentioned that the next day was my anniversary - 22 years with my husband - and that I needed to get him a card. Were there any card stores around? She warmly congratulated me on the anniversary, and then suggested I try out the Hallmark store five shops down.

"Hallmark?" I said, dubious. "Are they going to have anything for two guys?" I was thinking of the pretty heteronormative Hallmark brand I knew, the movies, the whole vibe...

She encouraged me to check it out, and I said I would, and I'd let her know if I found anything. Thinking that, when I went back in a month, I'd tell her I had to go somewhere else because Hallmark wasn't going to have anything.

But I was there, and why not try? Walking into the Hallmark store (where I've never shopped before) didn't change any of my preconceived notions. But the saleswoman smiled as I walked in and asked if she could help me find anything.

I said, "Yes, I'm looking for an anniversary card for two men." (Looking back on this, it's interesting that my language obliquely slipped me into the closet. The card I wanted could have been for friends, the way I said it. That damn closet that I spent so many years in and out of, depending on how safe I felt. I guess, in this store, I didn't feel that safe.)

"Oh, we have a box in the back." She replied.

"Huh?" Not my most eloquent reply, but I didn't know what she meant. There were ten aisles of card racks in the store, each stretching back twenty feet, displaying probably thousands of cards. I headed over to the counter where she stood.

"Yes, like our Spanish language cards." She pointed to a cardboard box on the floor behind her. "I'll just go get them."

While I waited, I headed over to the anniversary section, wondering if I could find something sort of gender-neutral (what I usually do in a pinch), but even the animal card couples were the kind where one penguin wore a dress and the other wore a bow tie.

Then she was back, with a cardboard box full of cards. "Here they are," She set them on the counter, and I started to look through it.

It was a goldmine of LGBTQ greeting cards. Cards congratulating two moms on having a baby. Cards for parents whose child had come out to them about being Trans who wanted to say they loved their child still. And yes, cards for two men celebrating their anniversary and their love.

I found a lot of good options in the LGBTQ box of cards at the Hallmark Store


The card I got was awesome - the printed text on the cover reads:

"You're strong and sexy,
sweet and generous,
funny and tender—
everything a man wants
his husband to be."

and it's stamped Hallmark on the back. It's made with recycled paper. I was so impressed!

And yet...

All these cards were hidden in a box in the back.

There was no signage in the store that would let you know the cards were there. You had to ask.

I asked the saleswoman why the cards weren't on display. June is LGBTQ pride month, after all. And she said they had more cards than they had room to display, as if that made perfect sense to her.

As she rang me up, I fought back my anxiety and I suggested that they might want to put out a handful of the LGBTQ cards on their racks, with signage that they had more, and that customers could ask for them. So people would know they were supportive of the queer community. So people would know that they had all these great cards. For people like me and my husband. (There. I'd come out. Take that, you damn closet!)

I asked if she would pass the comment along to whoever made the decisions on display in their store, and she said she would. It was awkward, but I felt good about asking. About being real about who I am. And I was excited about the "Our Anniversary: Man to Man" card I had found.

I left the Hallmark store, and went right back to Kiehl's.

I found the saleswoman who had been so kind, and told her that to my surprise, I had found some great gay cards, but that they'd had to bring them out from the back in a cardboard box.

"Oh," she laughed. "That's what they make us do for the mahogany cards."

I didn't know the term. "Mahogany," She explained. "Cards that show Black people like me."

And it hit me, what that Hallmark store had so wrong. People who spoke Spanish, Black people, Queer people—none of us were represented on the store floor. We weren't part of their vision of their customers. Of their community.

They had our cards in the back, in cardboard boxes.

They would have our cards in stock, they would take our money, but we weren't important enough to represent on the store floor, even with a handful of cards.

The straight, white, cis-gendered folks had all their cards proudly on display. But anyone different was second-class, and had to ask if, maybe, possibly, in the back, there was something for them. For us.

There was no pride in that box of LGBTQ cards being hidden away.

I hope that Hallmark store changes their approach. Hallmark is making cards for Spanish speakers. They're making cards for and featuring Black people. They're making cards for those of us in the LGBTQ community.

Now they need to put those cards out on display, so they proudly tell everyone—including their straight, white, cis-gendered customers—that celebrating diversity is part of who they are, too.

Because right now, I'll proudly continue to shop at Kiehl's. But I'll think twice before shopping at Hallmark again.

Be you, with Pride!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee




Friday, June 21, 2019

Librarian Friends! Come Say "Hi" At ALA2019

Hello Librarian friends!

If you're going to be in Washington D.C. for the American Library Association's 2019 annual conference, please swing by the Independent Book Publishers Association booth #1145 where I'll be working, helping to represent the more than 260 books from IBPA's publisher members.

We'll have signings and book giveaways throughout the conference weekend, including me on Saturday June 22, 2019 at 3:30pm and on Sunday June 23, 2019 at Noon!

I'll be giving away free review copies of the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook—narrated by Michael Crouch (who also narrated the "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" audiobook), and with a bonus author interview at the end by "Heather Has Two Mommies" author Lesléa Newman!

Listen to the first two chapters of the "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" audiobook for free here.
Visit me at the IBPA booth #1145 to get the full audiobook review copy emailed to you.

It's always a wonderful show, and I hope I'll get to see you.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Exciting News: "The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?" Lives On... With a New Publisher, Lerner!

It's official!

The book contract is signed, and the deal was announced yesterday in Publishers Weekly!


The deal announcement reads:
Hallie Warshaw at Lerner/Zest has acquired “I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?” blogger Lee Wind's debut middle grade nonfiction book, The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay? The book reveals the surprising and often hidden true stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Publication is set for fall 2020; Marietta Zacker at Gallt & Zacker did the deal for world rights.

I'm excited, and grateful, and want to believe more than anything that this time, my LGBTQ history book that would have totally changed my life had I read it when I was a closeted 11 and 12 and 13 and 14 year old, really will come out and reach readers and change lives for the better!

Really, it would have changed everything had I read it as a closeted 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 22 and 23 and 24 and 25 year old, too. I was in the closet for so long! "The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?" would have changed my life—for the better. It would have helped me be more authentic, sooner. It would have let me know that I was not alone.

Because if we know there were men who loved men in history, and women who loved women in history, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history, then we'll know we are not alone. We'll know we deserve a place at the table today.

And knowing we have a place at the table today empowers us to imagine a limitless future.

And that's what I want for all the young people—the ones we were, and the ones today.

This book is for them. For you. And yeah, for me, too.

And I can't wait! Dammit, I'm actually tearing up as I write this. Because there are moments in your life that transcend you. When you know you're doing something epic, something groundbreaking. Something that will change our world for the better—even in a small way. But that's how most change starts. And for me, that's this moment.

Thank you to my new and honest and smart and wonderful agent, Marietta Zacker.

Thank you to this book's new publisher at Lerner/Zest Books, Hallie Warshaw, and my editor Ashley Kuehl, and the whole Lerner team for believing in me and this project.

Thank you to my husband, and daughter, for loving me whether or not I have a book deal.

Thank you to my family and friends for cheering me on.

And thank you, my community, for all your support and encouragement on this crazy, crazy adventure in publishing.

The light in me recognizes and celebrates the light in you,
Lee

Monday, June 17, 2019

Order Signed Copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" From Pages A Bookstore!

I'm thrilled to announce that Pages A Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, California, will be carrying signed copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and they're happy to mail them to you!

Me, outside the independent Pages A Bookstore


You can order signed copies online at their website here, or call them at 310-318-0900.

Ten minutes from my day job at IBPA, Pages A Bookstore has become my local bookstore, and they're awesome. They even have a pretty amazing LGBTQ Pride month display up—a whole table-worth of great reads—and I'm so excited that Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill is being welcomed to their carefully curated collection!

Here I am, holding a copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" in front of their LGBTQ Pride Month Display!


Order your signed copy from Pages A Bookstore today!

My thanks to Kristin, Casey, and the whole Pages A Bookstore team!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Friday, June 14, 2019

I'm Featured In The Lead Story at Books Make A Difference!

This month's headline article is Power and Progress: Diverse Stories, Authentic Voices by Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito.

Wow - there's "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," among some of my favorite LGBTQ titles for kids and teens!

I'm honored to be included, not just with a generous shout-out to "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," but also with numerous quotes from my interview with Karen, covering why diversity in books for kids and teens is important, the difference between archetypes and characters, some of my favorite LGBTQ reads for youth, and so much more!

Hey, that's me! Talking to some of the teens who received the crowdfunded donated copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" at Camp Brave Trails.

The article also features Hannah Ehrlich, marketing and publicity director at Lee & Low Books, and T.S. Ferguson, editor at Jimmy Patterson Books. They're both smart and articulate, and I'm delighted to be in their company.

Some stand-out quotes:

“When we see someone like ourselves in books, it’s powerfully validating,” says Lee Wind, author of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill. At the same time, “When we step into someone else’s shoes through the magic of reading, and they’re different from us in some way (different gender, or racial background, or ability, or religion, or affective orientation) it helps us have a level of empathy and understanding we didn’t have before we knew them through the book.” —Me!

Hannah challenges fellow publishers and editors to recognize they are all gatekeepers and to approach that authority with responsibility. “Books have power,” she says. “And we choose the books.” —Hannah

“And you should be reading multiple books by multiple authors within those communities, because just like in your own communities, not everyone is the same and one perspective is not going to give you a fully formed idea of what these communities are like. You’re not going to read The Hate U Give and fully understand the black experience, for example. You need to be well-read.” —T.S.


Head over to read the full article here at booksmakeadifference.com - it's a great piece!

I'm grateful to Karen for writing it and including me, and to you, my community, for this opportunity to share.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Lee

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Los Angeles! An Album of Prideful Photos...

Went with the husband and teen to Los Angeles Pride this past weekend, and we walked in the parade with a group of gay dads and their kids. Lots of love and support, and some awesome t-shirt messages. So many, that I ran up to about a dozen folks and asked if I could take their photos to share here on the blog.

And now, your glimpse of some strong PRIDE from Los Angeles, 2019:

"The First Pride Was a Riot" — and love the shout out to Marsha P. Johnson!

Rainbow Bear! 
"Make Racists Afraid Again" — made me laugh, and pretty true.



"Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?" Yaaaas!

"Proud Daddy and Proud Papi — says it all!"

This sign was brilliant: "Free Hug No Matter Who You Are You're Loved."

HUMAN—yes, we all are!

"Gays do it Better" — loved this one, with hat ribbon and belt buckle tying it all up!

"Make America GAY Again" — a nice counterpoint to our current president's anti-gay, anti-women, anti-environment, anti-everything I seem to hold dear policies and statements and tweets. Yeah, let's make America GAY Again. Proudly Gay.

This couple made me so happy. "Free Hug: Proud Dad" and "Free Hug: Proud Mom" - they were representing, and I couldn't cheer them on enough!

"All for Love and Love for All" - such a great message!

"Love is a Human Right" — Yes!

"Protect Trans Kids" — Yes!

Thank you, Los Angeles Pride!

Monday, June 10, 2019

"Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Wins the National Indie Excellence Award for Best Book LGBTQ For Children & Young Adults

Hurray!

Look! From the winners page—it's "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill!"
Another lovely accolade for my debut YA novel. I'm so grateful more people will find out about the story now!

Check out the super-fun listing of all the winners of the National Indie Excellence Awards here.

Want to know the story-behind-the-story of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill? Check out the 5 minute video I did here.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Friday, June 7, 2019

Schooled (Book 2), Audio Assault (Book 3), Netminder (Book 4) - The Gay Teen Spy Thriller Series "Codename: Winger"!

The first book in this series is "Tracker Hacker." Here's the rest of the series by Jeff Adams...


A Very Winger Christmas (Codename: Winger Book 1.5) - A Free Short Story

Christmas is a time for family and friends, but teenage secret agent Theo Reese must solve a mysterious hack before he can enjoy Reese family holiday traditions and deliver a gift to his boyfriend, Eddie. Can he avert an international incident and save Christmas before time runs out?




Schooled

Secret agent and teenage computer genius Theo Reese lives in two separate worlds—and they’re about to collide.

Theo’s high school computer science club is gearing up for a competition, and Theo agrees to lend his knowledge of cybersecurity to help them win. The covert agency he works for also needs his talents. An encrypted key that allows access to the nation’s electrical grid has been stolen. Theo’s skills are crucial in its recovery before disaster strikes.

When the file shows up at the competition as one of those to be decoded, Theo must find a way to be both an average high school student and Winger, his secret identity. The file must be secured—all while protecting his teammates from those who will use any means necessary to get the file for themselves.



Audio Assault

Theo Reese is just like any other seventeen-year-old—with one small exception.

This summer all he wants is to spend time with his boyfriend, Eddie, and work on his MIT research project. His parents have other plans.

An old friend needs the help of Theo’s family. Oliver Glenwood is an ’80s music star who runs his own label. His wife and his daughter, Sofia, now a chart topper herself, are the targets of kidnappers. Oliver hopes they can eliminate whoever is behind the threat.

When Theo uncovers an even more insidious plot, the covert agency the Reeses work for, Tactical Operational Support, swoops into action.

Song files have been modified to steal personal data from devices and emit a tone that drives listeners into a homicidal rage. Theo and his parents race against the clock to stop this mysterious enemy from releasing the music on an unsuspecting populace and causing worldwide chaos.

Just when Theo thinks the mission couldn’t be more complicated, Eddie shows up in New York looking to hang out with his boyfriend.

No one ever said being a teenage secret agent would be easy.


Netminder
After a summer that was nothing like he’d planned, teenage secret agent Theo Reese is back to school and to work with Tactical Operational Support’s IT department. His world turns upside down arriving home from hockey practice to a major security breach.

On the run, he soon discovers the TOS network is down and he’s cut off.

As he uses his unique skills to find out what’s happened, Theo discovers the evil agency Blackbird is responsible. A nemesis from Theo’s first field mission is out for him and will stop at nothing to force Theo to help Blackbird realize their goal of taking global control of the internet.

Getting help from some unexpected sources, Theo must stop the internet takeover while trying to keep those closest to him safe.

Add your review of "A Very Winger Christmas," "Schooled," "Audio Assault," and/or "Netminder" in comments!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Actor Michael D. Cohen Comes Out in TIME as Being Part of the Trans Community



He plays Schwoz in Nickelodeon's longest running live-action sitcom, Henry Danger. He's instantly recognizable to a whole generation of young people. And in this Time Magazine article by Katy Steinmetz , Michael D. Cohen just came out as having, nearly two decades ago, transitioned his body from female to male to match the male gender that he always identified as being.

"I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience – a transgender journey." —Michael D. Cohen

And Michael is SO funny.

When asked about how it’s been having the name Michael Cohen lately, for instance, he says that he’s had it: “I’m thinking of changing my name to Paul Manafort.”

Towards making people understand that Trans people are just people like everyone else, this is a big deal.

I'm so glad Michael has come out so publicly, I can't wait to see his one-man show, “4 Cubits Make a Man,” and I hope you'll join me in cheering him on!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Lee

Monday, June 3, 2019

I'm the Featured Author for June at BookBaby's BookShop!

This is really cool!

Scroll to the bottom of the BookBaby BookShop landing page and... Hey, that's me!

I'm excited that, especially this month of LGBTQ Pride, more people will have the chance to see, hear about, and hopefully read Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill!

It's all about empowering LGBTQ teens and their allies—which includes YOU!—and I'm very grateful for this opportunity. I hope you'll check it out!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Friday, May 31, 2019

The 5 Minute Story-Behind-The-Story of My Writing and Publishing "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill"

Just in time for Pride month...

Presented to an audience of over 300 at IBPA Publishing University 2019 in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 2019 this INSIGHT presentation was like a game: tell a story in exactly 5 minutes about how "mistakes were made" with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds.

It felt really good to share my story—and now, I can share it with all of you!



The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

An Interview with Jeff Adams, Author of the Gay YA Spy Series "Codename: Winger"


Jeff signing books at the 2014 Gay Romance Literature Conference, where he got the idea for his Gay YA Spy Thriller Series, Codename: Winger


Lee: Hi Jeff, I'm so excited to chat with you about your Codename: Winger series! I just finished the first book, "Tracker Hacker," and there was so much I loved about it. Let's jump in! First question: A gay teen spy? What inspired this?

Jeff: There are several factors that played into the genesis for Codename: Winger. It began at the Gay Romance Literature conference in 2014. Someone there had a phone with the Kim Possible ringtone (the one that Kim’s communicator always played). I love that Disney show with the strong teen heroine and her sidekicks—Ron, the bumbling one, and Wade, her tech guy—saving the world. I also talked with writer friends at the con about my overall writing path and my desire to spend at least some time writing YA. One of the things I wanted to do was write a gay teen where being gay was the least interesting thing about him.

Another piece in the puzzle is the TV show Alias. Not only was that a super sharp spy show, but I loved how it showed Sidney Bristow’s personal life, which she had to balance with being a spy…and sometimes those worlds collided. I could also imagine Kim Possible growing up to be Sidney.

On the flight back to California from Chicago, I wrote the prologue to Tracker Hacker, the first book in the series. It severed as the foundation for Theo, his boyfriend, and his “uncle” (who’s not really his uncle at all). For the most part, what I wrote on the plane is the prologue that made it into the book. That’s how clearly I saw Theo’s backstory.

There are other influences as well—the teen heroes of Big Hero 6, aspects of techno movies like Tron, War Games and Hackers (to name a few). And more recently Mr. Robot, which debuted while I was writing the series.


Lee: Please tell us about your journey to getting this book published.

Jeff: Between 2014 and 2015 I worked on honing the idea for the series, which turned out to be four books. There’s an individual “mission” in each of them, but there are elements that all roll up into the fourth. Back at GRL in 2015, I pitched the series to Harmony Ink Press, which is the YA imprint of Dreamspinner Press, where I’d already published some romances. Happily they said yes and Tracker Hacker debuted at GRL in 2017. Now, just under two years later, the series is wrapping up with Netminder.

Lee: You’ve grounded the main character with a loving family, a boyfriend, a straight best friend, and a passion and mad skills for hockey and computer hacking. How much of that is pulled from your teenage life and how much of that is aspirational--your creating a life/character that has what you want gay teens to have?

Jeff: I love hockey. My grandfather took me to a couple of Detroit Red Wings games when I was six and seven years old and I loved it. I’ve always followed the Wings and then later the Pittsburgh Penguins as well. In my mid-30s I finally learned how to play the game and joined a team with the New York City Gay Hockey Association where I played for a decade. So the hockey aspect is real, even though I didn’t do that as a teen (I was not a sporty kid at all).

Computers were a part of my teen years too. I got a Texas Instruments computer (one that used cassette tapes as the storage medium) when I was in the eighth grade. I wasn’t doing anything crazy with them, but I learned some simple programing and have always loved the idea of what computers can do.

Theo is very much the teen I wish I had been—skilled athlete and skilled computer geek. He also lives a life that I want gay teens to have. It goes back to what I mentioned before about a gay character where gay is just a part of life and it’s not something that’s ridiculed or even something he thinks about. It just is. Theo has a boyfriend. His straight friend Mitch has a girlfriend. That’s life.

Having that foundation, where Theo and Eddie have been together for almost a year as Tracker Hacker opens, shows teens an established relationship. The story for them is how Theo manages the relationship when he has to keep so many secrets. It’s a delicate balance between trying to be a normal teen and, as he is in the series, having to actually go into the field on missions instead of just staying his room behind the computer.


Lee: What’s the response you’re hearing from readers? Are you, like me, hearing from a lot of adult readers as well as teens?

Jeff: I couldn’t be more happy that Theo’s been so well received from the beginning. Teens and adults seem to enjoy the adventures he ends up on and the growth he has. Across the four books we see about thirteen months of Theo’s life since book one is in the fall of his junior year. From there Schooled is in the second semester of junior year, Audio Assault is over summer break and Netminder is just after Theo starts senior year. (I should call out that there’s also a free short story that takes place over the holidays called A Very Winger Christmas.) In each of the books he’s challenged as both a teenager and an agent.

One young man’s story really stuck with me though. Just before Schooled came out, I heard from a mom whose pre-teen son had just come out at school and it hadn’t gone well. He loved techo-thriller books and she wanted to know if the Winger series would be okay for him. She decided it was and it turned out Tracker Hacker was the book he needed in that moment—to see Theo living an out and proud life where being gay was okay. It didn’t hurt that Theo played hockey and loved computers because the young man did too. I’m so glad Theo was there for this young person.


Lee: That's great! Tell us about book four in the series.

Jeff: Theo ends up on his toughest mission yet—professionally and personally—in Netminder. He had a rough go in Audio Assault and just as he started to recover from those events and get back to school, he arrives home from hockey practice to a major security breach. He’s forced to institute the emergency protocols he worked out with his parents years ago. He soon discovers that Tactical Operational Support, the organization he and his parents work for, has been compromised and that he’s being targeted by an evil group who wants his help to take over the Internet.

I can’t give up too much more without getting into spoiler territory. So far, early reviewers have liked the story and how it wraps up the series and I hope that holds true for everyone as my intention was to create a satisfying conclusion.


Lee: How do you juggle podcasting, other writing (you write gay romance with your husband, Will, right?), and working on Codename: Winger?

Jeff: Honestly, it all comes down to time management. Every afternoon after I wrap up the day job plus weekends, time is devoted to writing (and everything that goes with that) as well as the podcast. Luckily Will is in the business with me so he understands if I’m on deadline and need to spend time on whatever the current project is. Since I’ve been publishing regularly since 2013 (and podcasting since 2015), I’ve found a routine that thankfully seems to work and lets me get between three and four stories done per year.

So far Will and I have co-written one romance together—the second chances, friends to lovers novel called The Hockey Player’s Heart. I also have other romance novellas published and will be releasing more next year. I’ll also have another YA series re-releasing late this year.


Lee: Are there more future adventures for Theo?

Jeff: While the Codename: Winger series is complete, I plan to take the universe I’ve created with Tactical Operational Support and its agents into a romantic suspense series. Characters from the Winger books will definitely show up in those stories to provide mission support. The plan is for the new series to begin in late 2020/early 2021.

In addition, I’ve been preparing the Hat Trick series, a YA tale about two high school hockey players who fall in love during the senior year of high school, for re-release. When it comes out, the series will be re-named Pride League since I plan to expand beyond the initial trilogy. Spoiler alert: Theo and Eddie get a cameo in the first book—tying the two universes into one.


Lee: Sounds great! Thanks for sharing the story-behind-the-story of Codename: Winger with us, Jeff!


You can find out much more about Jeff and the The Big Gay Romance Podcast he does with his husband, Will Knauss, here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger Series: Book 1) - A Gay Teen Spy Thriller Where the Out Hero Has a Loving Family, a Hot Boyfriend, and a Spy Organization to Save (or He'll Lose His Father)



Tracker Hacker by Jeff Adams

High school student. Hockey player. Computer whiz kid. Covert agent?

At sixteen Theo Reese is the youngest agent for Tactical Operational Support. His way with computers makes him invaluable. He designs new gadgets, helps agents (including his parents) in the field, and works to keep the TOS network safe. But when a hacker breaches the system TOS uses to track agents, Theo is put to the test like never before.

Thrust from behind the safety of his desk, Theo must go into the field to put a stop to the hack. He’s scared but resolved because one of the missing agents is his father. And just to make it more interesting, he has to keep everything a secret from his boyfriend and teammates.

Can Theo get the job done, save his dad, and make things good with his boyfriend?

Add your review of "Tracker Hacker" in comments!

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Big Gay Fiction Podcast Reviews "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" -- and Jeff Loved It!

It's a podcast I love, and the love was reciprocated this week  in Episode 189 with Jeff's review of my YA novel, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill."

Fun moments from the review:

"I read a tremendous YA novel this past week, it's called Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, by debut novelist Lee Wind."

"My love of this book starts very much with these teenage characters."

"Even the jerk high school kids that are in this book are written with so much authenticity and dimension that you really fall into their stories, too, and it's really a credit to Lee how he kind of pulls all this together to make such inherently readable and relatable characters."

"I love how much actual history is mixed into this book. It's really brilliant as we've all heard about Lincoln being gay, we've heard those rumors and how it all ties back to Joshua Speed but this book, and through Wyatt's eyes, it really lays out some of the facts as they're presented. There's an interview with Lee at the end of the audiobook, where he talks about the research that he did to get this book as accurate as it is, and it's really a credit to him how he's made a history lesson without making it feel like you're reading a textbook, because it's really Wyatt trying to piece all this stuff together. And there are some really great comparisons to Lincoln and Martin Luther King in the book, too. It's a history lesson without a history lesson, kind of like going to Hamilton, you get the big infusion of history while you enjoy a great musical."

"While there's a lot of history in this book, the story is very much rooted in our time..."

"There were times when I was like, this is really over the top, and then in the next moment, like, it really isn't. Because in these crazy times, when we can look at the news and really ask ourselves what the hell was that? Everything that goes on in the book you can easily see just escalating in the society that we've got today. And Lee perfectly captured all that and it grounds the book, actually, with a very here and now kind of feel to it."

"I have to give a quick shout out, too, to Michael Crouch. Michael's the voice of Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and he does a tremendous job with a large cast of adults and kids who are in this book..."

"I highly recommend, for a great YA read, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill by Lee Wind."

You can watch the podcast (and hear the full review at about 9:17 in) on youtube here,



or get the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!

Thanks, Jeff!

And hurray!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Zenobia July - A Trans Teen Girl Solves Cyber Crimes



Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.

When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time.

Add your review of “Zenobia July” in comments!

Monday, May 20, 2019

An Interview with Lisa Bunker, Author of Queer Teen Novel "Zenobia July," Which Comes Out Tomorrow!




Here's my interview with Lisa, on the eve of her second book being published!


Lee: Congratulations on the new book - tell us about Zenobia July.

Lisa: Zenobia July is a teenage trans girl with genius-level coder/hacker skills and a troubled past who has moved to Portland, Maine to live with her cool Lesbian aunties after the death of her last surviving parent. As our story opens she is about to start a new school year, attending for the first time as the girl she has always known herself to be. She makes friends, but also tangles with the school’s queen bee and a cyber-rival. Then, when someone hacks the school’s website, posting hateful memes, she knows she can help, but struggles to decide whether it is worth the risk of increased attention.

Lee: Why that title?

Lisa: One of the funnest parts of gender transition is getting to choose a new name. Zen wanted to pick something really unusual and interesting. She chose “Zenobia” because it starts with Z and ends with A – an alphabetical depiction of going to back to the beginning and starting over. “July” is the month she changed her name. Also, there’s a character in the book who cares a lot about words or combinations of words with no repeat letters, so I needed a name for Zen that fit that.

Lee: How much of the main character is you?

Lisa: Not all that much, actually. I didn’t transition until my 40’s. Zen came to life in my mind after the death by suicide in 2014 of Leelah Alcorn, a trans girl in Ohio. Leelah left behind an eloquent note on Tumblr, asking the world to make sure her death meant something. So I started thinking, what did Leelah need that she didn’t have to survive her life? And that’s how Zen started to take shape. Where Zen and I overlap is in the often surreal experience of switching genders in the world – all the odd little ways gender pops up all the time. 


Lee: Your debut novel, Felix Yz came out two years ago. What’s different this time around?

Lisa: Felix is gay, but his identity is more incidental to his story than Zen’s, whose struggle to navigate middle school while living as a girl for the first time is one of the main threads of her book. Also, Felix was in first person, with a strong feature for his quirky voice – the book takes the form of his secret blog. Zen is close third person, so the narrative style is markedly different. And in Felix I included lots of LGBTQ characters as a kind of writerly lark. This time, it’s very much on purpose, as I seek to depict the power of queer community and family of choice to save lives. 


Lee: Is there a vision of Zenobia July being the first of a series? (The solves cyber crimes makes me think, perhaps…)


Lisa: Yes! Zen is my entry into the super-sleuth canon. I’ve always wanted to write a Sherlock Holmes-style character. It’s just that my Holmes is a teenage trans girl, and she does her genius detecting in cyberspace, not in the real world. This book is her origin story, in which she meets Arli, the character who will become her Watson. I hope to write many more Zen books.


Lee: Sounds so fun! What do you hope readers get from reading your latest?


Lisa: Reading pleasure, of course! Beyond that, though, I hope to add to the growing body of nuanced fictional portraits of trans people. I want to increase the world’s understanding of the trans experience, and I want to show that non-binary folk are just regular humans, with strengths and weaknesses, but as worthy to love and be loved as anyone else.

Lee: Awesome! Anything else you’d like to share?


Lisa: I’ve been thinking a lot about what I call “post-binary narrative,” by which I mean a couple things. The obvious first layer is story focused on queer characters, foregrounding them and digging into the details of their experiences living outside the imposed binaries of gender and sexuality, which are still so strong. But I’m also interested in avoiding what I see as pitfalls of a too-binary approach to storytelling, with Heroes and Villains. There are some transphobic characters in the story, but I’ve taken care to depict them as human too, with their own reasons for what they do. 


Thanks for taking the time to tell us about Zenobia July, Lisa!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature - A Teen Girl's Kindness To A Gay Student Has Her Ostracized by Her Church and Family... And She Has To Decide: What Kind of Person Does She Want To Be



Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Your best friend hates you. The guy you liked hates you. Your entire group of friends hates you.
All because you did the right thing. [Apologizing for the role you, your family, and church had in harassing a gay student at your school.]
Welcome to life for Mena, whose year is starting off in the worst way possible. She's been kicked out of her church group and no one will talk to her--not even her own parents. No one except for Casey, her supersmart lab partner in science class, who's pretty funny for the most brilliant guy on earth.
And when Ms. Shepherd begins the unit on evolution, school becomes more dramatic than Mena could ever imagine . . . and her own life is about to evolve in some amazing and unexpected ways.

Add your review of "Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature" in comments!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My Two Moms and Me - A Board Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid



My Two Moms and Me By Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Izak Zenou

“Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy moms and their kids throughout their day—eating breakfast, going on a playdate, heading to the pool for a swim, and settling back in at night with a bedtime story and a good-night lullaby. LGBTQ+ parents and their friends and families will welcome this inclusive and cheerful book that reflects their own lives and family makeup.”

A wonderful board book that's all about different two-mom families going through their day with a little one.





The illustrations by fashion illustrator Izak Zenou feel both modern and timeless.


Showing all these loving two mom families makes this a much-needed, and sure to be much-loved, book.

Add your review of “My Two Moms and Me” in comments!

Monday, May 13, 2019

My Two Dads and Me - A Board Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid (and I wish my husband and I had had to read to our daughter!)



My Two Dads and Me by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Izak Zenou

“Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy dads and their kids throughout their day—eating breakfast, getting dressed, heading out to the park, and settling back in at night with a bubble bath and a good-night lullaby. LGBTQ+ parents and their friends and families will welcome this inclusive and cheerful book that reflects their own lives and family makeup.”

I love this book - the decision to not follow just one family with two dads but to make each page turn feature a new family with a different child who has two dads was spot-on.




Helping—as much as a single board book can—fill the nearly empty shelf where board books for families like mine can find themselves.


And the illustrations, by fashion illustrator Izak, are beautifully rendered, giving the book a timeless quality that will keep it a go-to for years and years to come.

Bravo, Michael and Izak!

Add your review of “My Two Dads and Me” in comments!