Monday, April 29, 2019

Middle Grade Author K.A. Holt Speaks Up About the "Soft Censorship" She's Experienced Being an Out Queer Author

This article by Kari Anne (K.A.) Holt, Now You See Me, Now You Don't, from the April 25, 2019 edition of Publishers Weekly, really resonated.


Especially this part:

“In fact, when I visit schools I do everything a straight author does, except for three things:

1. I’m a lady and I say “my wife” when asked about my spouse.
2, I give every LGBTQ+ kid in the audience a flesh and blood example of an LGBTQ+ person who isn’t on TV, who isn’t a stereotype, who is proud and confident, who is a human just like everyone else.
3. I give every non-LGBTQ+ kid in the audience a flesh and blood example of an LGBTQ+ person who isn’t on TV, who isn’t a stereotype, who is proud and confident, who is a human just like everyone else.

It might not seem like much, but I can tell you, for some kids this is everything. We don’t always know which kids these are, but they are there. Trust me.”
So much of my experience in visiting schools feels like my presence as an out gay man, invited by the school to speak to the students, is 90% of the impact of my being there. (Though I work hard on the 10% of what I'm speaking about!)

And Kari Anne's experience with only getting to speak to a handful of students at that one middle school is so upsetting, because we know those students heard that message from the school's administration and teachers loud and clear - that Kari Anne, because she is a lesbian, wasn't worthy of being honored with speaking to the whole school. Wasn't approved to speak to all the students. That message to the LGBTQ kids at that school is chilling. And the message to the non-LGBTQ kids at that school contributes to a society where homophobia and prejudice in general is on the rise.

We need to stand together against this kind of “soft censorship.” Calling these moments out when they happen is a key part of that. It's very brave of Kari Anne to speak up about her experience, and I hope the light on this helps make things better moving forward!

Go read the full article here.

and learn more about Kari Anne Holt, and her books, at her website here.

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Mr. Yingling Reads reviews "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and calls it a MUST-PURCHASE for high school, middle school, and public libraries everywhere!

This is awesome!


moments of the review by this acclaimed middle grade librarian blogger that are awesome:

"I am always looking for LGBTQIA+ books that don't involve drinking or high school level romance, and this is perfect. Bonus points for having a mystery plot that is not about Wyatt's coming out!"

and

"The historical notes on the actual letters of Lincoln and Speed are complete, and it would be interesting to have a nonfiction book on this topic."

and

"This is a must purchase for high school, middle school, and public libraries everywhere!"

and of course,

"What I really think: Definitely purchasing..."

Check out the full review here.

Thanks, Ms. Yingling, for reading my novel and giving it this honest (and wonderful) review!

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Passing the Mic to Shea Diamond, Speaking For "Americans For the Equality Act"

Sometimes, the best thing you can do as an ally is to give your microphone to those who aren't being heard enough.

Listen to Shea Diamond, singer/songwriter and Trans activist, speak up about the Americans for Equality Act:




You can find out more about the Americans for Equality Act here.

And while we're listening, here's one of Shea's songs that's been called an anthem for the Trans community, I am Her:





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

Lee

Monday, April 22, 2019

WANT - A Science Fiction Thriller In a Near-Future Taipei That Includes Queer Teen Secondary Characters



Want by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO.

Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

I loved this book (listened to the audiobook.) I'll be on a panel with Cindy at the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival in May, and was so excited about how the future she created included queer characters!

Add your review of "Want" in comments!


Friday, April 19, 2019

Picture Us In The Light - A Gay Artist (Who's a High School Senior and Asian) Unravels His Family's Secrets



Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

This book was honored with a Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children's and Young Adult Literature Award Honor! Add your review of "Picture Us In The Light" in comments!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

6 of the Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018 on the ALA List Were Challenged Because They Included LGBTQ Characters and Themes

You know what we're fighting for? Inclusion. Equity. Respect. Celebration.

#1 on the ALA List of Most Challenged Books of 2018:
“George,” by Alex Gino
Reason: for including a transgender character


This is a lovely book, about a 3rd grader who wants to play Charlotte in the class play of Charlotte's web.

#2 “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by E. G. Keller
Reasons: for LGBTQIA+ content, political and religious viewpoints


The only one of these six I haven't yet read. Moving to the top of my list now.

#3 “Captain Underpants” series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: for including a same-sex couple, perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior


I cheered when, in the 12th book in this beloved series, the heroes visited their future selves and one of them was married to another man! (And George and Harold are still best friends.)

#5 “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ characters and themes



A wonderful middle grade graphic novel that included gay middle schoolers!

#10 “This Day in June,” by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content


A picture book about an LGBTQ Pride Parade and celebration!

#11 “Two Boys Kissing,” by David Levithan
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content


A YA novel based on true events, of two teen boys aiming to set a new Guinness World Record.

My editorial thoughts;

Really, if adults don't like a specific book, they can make the choice to not share that book with their own children. But when they start to say that a book isn't right for ANY child, that it should be removed from a library's collection, then they've gone too far.

Children need these books that include Queer characters and themes. Yes, the LGBTQ kids and teens. And the heterosexual and cis-gendered kids and teens, too. Because every child needs to know that LGBTQ people are part of our world. And if we queer people aren't in the books kids and teens can find in the library, that just makes them feel alone, unwanted, and ashamed of being their authentic selves. It makes them afraid.

I know.

There were no books with positive portrayals of LGBTQ people when I was growing up. And that was how I felt.

That more than half of the books on the ALA's Most Challenged (a.k.a. Banned) Books list for 2018 were challenged because of their queer content tells us a lot about how far we still have to go as a society, especially with political leaders who foment hatred and fear of the 'other' -- including against LGBTQ people. Especially with so many people feeling emboldened to voice and act on their bigotry.

We need to stand up.

Shine our light.

And reflect the light of others. So let's read these books. Talk about these books. Buy these books. Ask for them from our libraries.

And let's aim for the day when we don't have books that get challenged. Until then, we resist. Together.

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


Monday, April 15, 2019

Five Highlights and Four Photos from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2019


Let's start with photos!


The panel I moderated, at the signing tent. (Left to right): Brendan Reichs, Ally Condie, Carlos Hernandez, me (!), and Quinn Sosna-Spear
I got to sign copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" that folks purchased!

I was also asked to sign a canvas bag and someone's hand (all of the panelists signed both)!

My name! My books! At the festival!!! (so cool.)

Some quotes from our panel that are still resonating:

5. "Friends help you reveal part of yourself, and become a better version of yourself." —Carlos Hernandez

4. "Characters are collections of motivations." —Brendan Reichs

Some quotes from another YA panel I attended that jumped up to be written down:

3. "Good reviews are like crack. Bad review are like poison. Neither help you." —advice Jennifer Nielsen passed along.

2. "What I can control is the page." I need to write what I want to say. —Dhonielle Clayton

And

1. most of all, moderating a wonderful panel.

What a great day! Thanks to my panelists Quinn, Carlos, Brendan, Ally, and to all the organizers and volunteers and staff behind pulling off the amazing 2019 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Come See Me (and some famous authors) at The LA Times Festival of Books, This Saturday April 13, 2019 at Noon)



I'll be moderating the middle grade fantasy panel, Middle Grade Fiction: Magic and Mysteries with Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (about their book "The Darkdeep," Carlos Hernandez (about their book "Sal and Gabi Break the Universe") and Quinn Sosna-Spear (about their book "The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson.")

Here's our panel description from the festival schedule:
From mysterious islands to for-real magicians to unusual contraptions, these books stretch kids' imaginations. Join the authors for a conversation on their fantastical middle grade books "The Darkdeep," "Sal and Gabi Break the Universe" and "The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson."


I'm really looking forward to this -- we're going to have a great conversation! And if you'll be there, swing by the YA Stage and join us!

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

SCBWI-IL Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation With Susanne Fairfax (Event Video Recording and My Thanks!)



What an amazing event!

From the plate of cookies with my book cover on them!


to Susanne Fairfax's careful reading and wonderful questions about Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill,

from the crowd of wonderfully engaged people that showed up (an actual crowd!)

to selling out all the copies of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill that Open Book had,

from the warm welcome of the SCBWI Illinois team, especially Co-Regional Advisor Deborah Topolski, Assistant Regional Advisor Jennifer Wagh, Illustrator Coordinator Cedric Gliane, Diversity committee members Susanne Fairfax (the same amazing Susanne is also the Chair of the Diversity Committee), Urania Smith and Jacqueline Alcántara, and Diversity Network Representative Donna Beasley)

to signing books both for those attending and books purchased to donate to LGBTQ and allied teens in Chicago...

it was all just wonderful.

And, for everyone (especially the teens) who couldn't attend, we recorded the interview and Q&A on video, and you can watch it here:



If you'd like to order a signed copy of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill for either yourself or to donate to LGBTQ and Allied teens in Chicago, you can do so here.

Jenny surprised me with a "Illinois: Land of Lincoln" shirt - love it! It's perfect for my #QueerHistoryIsEverywhere instagram project!



With enormous gratitude,

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

p.s. - check out all the diversity initiatives of SCBWI-Illinois. They're doing great things!

A close-up view of one awesome cookie!

Monday, April 8, 2019

See You Tonight (April 8, 2019) 7pm at Open Books West Loop

I hope you'll join me at SCBWI-Illinois Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation at Open Books West Loop, from 7-9pm.



I'll be interviewed by SCBWI-Illinois' Diversity Committee chairperson Susanne Fairfax, and SCBWI-IL will also announce the winners of their 2019 Diverse New Member Pathway and Many Voices Prizes.

You can pick up a signed copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and/or buy a copy to donate to Chicago-area LGBTQ and allied teens.

I can't wait!

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story - A Bi Teen Tries To Believe He, Too, Can Have A Rom-Com Worthy Romance



This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

Add your review of "This is Kind of an Epic Love Story" in comments!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What If It’s Us - Two Gay Teens Meet In New York City... Does The Universe Have Romance In Mind?



What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

Add your review of "What If It’s Us" in comments!

Monday, April 1, 2019

I'm Coming To Chicago! (With a Book Event On April 8, 2019!)

It's a big week ahead...

First, for my day job, I'll be in Chicago April 4-7 for the Independent Book Publishers Association's (IBPA's) Publishing University 2019, the premiere educational and networking event for indie publishing,

and then on Monday April 8 I'll be at SCBWI-Illinois Marginalized Voices Out Loud: Queer YA Indie Author Lee Wind in Conversation at Open Books West Loop, from 7-9pm.



It's a free event, and you can get tickets here.

I'll be interviewed by SCBWI-Illinois' Diversity Committee chairperson Susanne Fairfax, and SCBWI-IL will also announce the winners of their 2019 Diverse New Member Pathway and Many Voices Prizes.

You can pick up a signed copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" and/or buy a copy to donate to Chicago-area LGBTQ and allied teens.

It's going to be an amazing evening, and if you're in the Chicago area, I hope you can join us!

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

p.s. - no April Fools on this one - I really will be in Chicago for these events!