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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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 - 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,


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


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,

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?


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.

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,


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,