Friday, November 15, 2019

Final Draft - 18-year-old Fat, Pansexual, Ecuadorian-American Laila Tries To Figure Out How To Be a Great Writer... and How To Live



Final Draft By Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories. But just before her graduation, Laila’s creative writing teacher and number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing. A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval leads to a series of unexpected adventures. With her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

Add your review of "Final Draft" in comments!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best At It - A Middle Grade novel about a Brown, Gay, and Anxious Boy Dealing With Seventh Grade in Small Town Indiana


Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Interviewed in CBC Diversity's October 2019 newsletter about this, his debut middle grade novel, Maulik said:

“I read so many books as a kid, but I never, ever saw brown or gay characters in the stories I read. I could have used that kind of representation. It would have been very validating, very powerful, as a child to have been able to see my own experience reflected back in a book. So, a big inspiration was the fact that I believe there’s a need for diverse books for young people that address intersectionality. Kids are so much more than one thing. I happened to be brown and gay and dealing with some anxiety…and I hope that sharing my story offers “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” to so many young people.”

The novel has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Add your review of "The Best at It" in comments!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Here's a Theory: The Statue of Liberty is... a Man!

Well, based on a man.

So the assumption has always been that the French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, modeled Lady Liberty off his mother. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a different theory, as reported in "Secrets of America’s Favorite Places", and told to the New York Post:
“As I was looking at it more carefully, the structure of the face isn’t really the same. [His mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … and was known for his accuracy,” Mitchell tells The Post.

“Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

Here's a close-up view of a copy of Lady Liberty's face, from the museum under the statue:


And here's a photo of Frédéric's brother, Jean-Charles:


So why would it even matter?

The Statue of Liberty is still iconic, based on a woman or a man. Still amazing. Still a beacon of hope for what America stands for.

But, knowing “Lady Liberty” may actually be the likeness of a beloved young man adds a lovely LGBTQ hue to the oxyidized copper green-blue statue's welcome to America.

Should we think of her as a man in drag? Pride.com suggests she might be a drag queen. The wonderful Peter Tatchell Foundation asks, in their Oct 24, 2019 newsletter where I first read about this, "Is the Statue of Liberty a giant drag queen? Could it be based on a Frenchman called Jean Charles Bartholdi? Well, 'Lady Liberty' is a great drag name!"

At the very least, if she's really based on Jean-Charles, it's pretty gender non-conforming!

Queer history really is everywhere.

Giuseppe Milo [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Hold up your torch, Lady Liberty, and be proud of who you are—no matter who you're based on.

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


Friday, November 8, 2019

The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers - Young Readers Will Love The Magic & Mystery (And Oliver's Best Friends in 3rd Grade, Twins Teenie and Bea, have Two Dads!)



The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn

Eight-year-old Oliver dreams of being a professional magician, even though he has terrible stage fright. And now, his friends Teenie and Bea have gotten him invited to a classmate's birthday party as the paid entertainment! Desperate for help, he visits The Great Zoocheeni's Magic Emporium, but comes away with nothing more than a moth-eaten top hat.

Oliver is in for a lucky surprise, though. Inside that top hat hides a wisecracking rabbit named Benny, who agrees to help Oliver with his act. But at the party, Oliver is accused of robbery! He'll need to solve the mystery of the missing robo-cat to clear his name before he and Benny can amaze the crowd with their grand finale.

Pseudonymous Bosch is the "infamously anonymous" New York Times bestselling author (of the Secret Series) and very nice guy who may or may not be "the alter ego of Raphael Simon, a totally unrelated author who lives in Pasadena, California, with his husband and twin daughters."

"The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers" even has a magic trick for the chapter book's readers to learn at the end! Add your review in comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride - a Lovely Picture Book About Rainbows, and Our Rainbow Families, for Ages 3 and Up



Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Anne Passchier

"A sweet ode to rainbow families, and an affirming display of a parent's love for their child and a child's love for their parents. With bright colors and joyful families, this book celebrates LGBTQ+ pride and reveals the colorful meaning behind each rainbow stripe. Readers will celebrate the life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit that the rainbows in this book will bring."

Michael has written something simple and powerful, and Anne's illustrations are inclusive of many kinds of LGBTQ families, made up of many colors and types of people. Especially love the two dads kissing as they push their child in a stroller in the final celebratory spread.


This is definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!

Add your review of "Rainbow: A First Book of Pride" in comments!

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community, here's the latest!



Watch the under-four-minutes video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here: https://youtu.be/ljtia5QvFN4

Transcript:

Hi Community, It’s November 2019, I’m Lee Wind, and this is my Video Newsletter, that's all about informing, updating, and hopefully inspiring YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

Robert Indiana is this famous POP artist who came up with the famous LOVE statue, you know, with the letters in a stack with the "O" on a slant? It's everywhere, all over the world. There's one in Israel, there's one in Washington, D.C. that's in Italian, there's one in the city I grew up in, Philadelphia, there's one at the college I went to, University of Pennsylvania, there's one in New York, they're all over the world, there was even a postage stamp!

And it's really exciting, because today, I learned that Robert Indiana was gay! In the 1960s, he had a relationship with another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, and it's just really cool that this icon of love that I've grown up with, this pop art thing that's been so popular, and loved by so many people, was from a gay artist. Queer history really is everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

Some months, it’s just about doing the work, and November is that kind of month.

Linda Sue Park taught me this great technique, it's called a 12 minute writing sprint, I set the timer on my phone for 12 minutes, and I tell myself I just have to focus for that much time. And I do it every day. Some days I'm able to do more than 12 minutes, if I'm on a roll, I'll hit the timer to do again, another 12 minutes, and another 12 minutes, but some days all I have is 12 minutes. But you know, piece by piece, day by day, I'm building the new novel, and I'm really excited about it!

Readers Say

Andrea @stargirlriots, is a reader in Cape Town, South Africa, and they tweeted on Oct 27th,

“I just finished the audiobook of Queer as a Five Dollar Bill by @LeeWind and !!!!!! (6 exclamation points) I have never reacted to a book SO much! I’d be “exactly! Thank you!!!” Talking back, eyebrows f-ing raised while I “yah! But—“ All. The. Way. Through. 10/10 recommend!"

Thanks, Andrea! I love that you loved the book, and I love that it's being read, and listened to, on the other side of the world. And when it reaches readers, and it effects them like that, that's what it's all about.

Events

I had a great time at Models of Pride - there were over 1,400 LGBTQ and Allied teens there. I had a great session where we talked all about discovering LGBTQ history, and one of the attendees, a teenager, even sketched me!

I've been interviewed for a new podcast called “The Premise” which is all about the story behind the storytellers. I'm really excited, it's a brand-new podcast, I've very grateful to Jennifer Thompson and her husband Chad who had me on, and I'm looking forward to that launching in the next couple of months – I'll let you know.

Also, Nov 21 coming up, I'll be moderating a panel at my local high school of their pride project GSA group and I'm really looking forward to that!

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, I’m really enjoying…

Wayward Son

It's the follow-up to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is sort of a gay Harry Potter book, but this time Baz, and Simon, and Agatha, and Penelope are all in America… And there's a road trip, and you don't know where it's going at first, but man, it builds up and gets really exciting, and I can't recommend it enough.

Inspiration

“Stories are truer than true. There's a quote from Neil Gaiman's Coraline: ‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ We absorb that, and it makes the next dragon a little more survivable.”

I love that. It's from A.J. Hackwith, a queer writer of science fiction and fantasy, author of The Library of the Unwritten, who was interviewed in Shelf Awareness Oct 25, 2019.

Thanks A.J., and thank you, Neil!

Want more? Check out I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at leewind.org

Until then, the light in me recognizes the light in all of you.

Thanks!

***

Thanks to the team at lgbthistorymonth.org for including Robert Indiana in their Icons of LGBTQ history this past November. They're a great resource for learning more about our Queer History!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Matthew Shepard's Parents Speak Out Against This Adminstration's (and Department of Justice's) Hypocrisy



As reported in the Advocate by Trudy Ring,

"We find it interesting and hypocritical that he would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees.

“Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals from hate crimes. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy." —Judy and Dennis Shepard


It's refreshing and wonderful when people do the right thing.

Yeah, appearing with the current administration officials at this anniversary event would have drawn media attention to their mission of making the world a better place for LGBTQ people... but it would have used the Shepards as window-dressing, helping the administration continue to pretend they care about our equality while at the same time actively opposing it.

I'm really proud of Judy and Dennis.

I hope their standing proud for what's true and right inspires many others to do the same.

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

p.s. - shout out to my husband Mark who shared this with me, so I could share it with all of you.