Monday, November 30, 2020

Ma Llorona - A Queer YA novella "reclamation" of a classic Mexican ghost story

Ma Llorona: a ghost story… …a love story by Maya Gonzalez

"I cry for all of us who bear the burden of these times."


One day at the river changed everything.

So begins the terror from the pale ones who remake the lands and the people to suit their pale vision.
But the ghost woman and her one true love conjure a plan.

Will La Llorona's heart be strong enough to fulfill it?
More importantly, when the time comes....will the people be ready?

In times filled with terror and torment, one woman's haunting grief rises from beyond to become the people's howl in the dark. Sometimes a heartache is so great, it belongs to everyone. Sometimes a healing is so powerful it holds within it the spark to change everything....if we're ready.

A queer reclamation of the classic Mexican ghost story, La Llorona, that spans the ages and the Americas (MesoAmerica 1500 to present day San Francisco) to reunite the people with their ghosts and mend what was torn apart.

An emotional and layered journey that weaves history with love, spirit with flesh, and merges ancient myths with current political times. Powerful themes of love, pre-colonial queer identity, sacred feminine, loss and endurance course through the pages as the story gathers and flows and gathers again to support healing, negotiate deep ancestral trauma and ultimately, transformation.

Add your review of "Ma Llorona" in comments!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Did you know Amazon's Ring gives over 1,600 Police Departments Access To Your Front-Door Footage, Putting Black Lives In Danger?

Going into Black Friday and the consumerism of the days ahead, Amazon's relationship to unjust power structures is important to know about.


Amazon’s Ring: Ring gives police backdoor access to your front-door footage. Over 1,600 police departments partner with Amazon Ring. Nearly half have a history of excessive force or police-involved civilian deaths. That’s over 10 million households helping Amazon digitize racist “Stop & Frisk” policies and powering more police violence against Black lives.

Neighbors, Amazon Ring’s reporting app, encourages people to spy on anyone passing by and label them as “suspicious,” which automates racial profiling. There is no evidence to support that Amazon Ring and the Neighbors app actually help reduce crime or maintain public safety. Meanwhile, they put Black lives in danger.

As the Break Up With Amazon website states:

As people across the country take to the streets demanding an end to police violence against Black communities, Amazon is quietly positioning itself to rake in the benefits of the next evolution of policing. Instead, Amazon should sincerely align itself with today’s Movement for Black Lives, which demands our cities to #DefundThePolice. The funding spent on policing, surveilling, and caging Black and brown communities hardest hit by the COVID19 pandemic should be reinvested back into housing, education, and other relief programs.

Important to know, and share, and raise our voices that this isn't okay.

Stay safe, all.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Ambivalence and a History Lesson on the Native Nations Whose Ancestral Lands I Live On Today

Ahh, Thanksgiving. It's a holiday that's sat uncomfortably with me for the past few years, especially as I've learned more about colonialism and the mistreatment and murder of Native people as generations of white people took their land and made it "ours." (Part of that was the research for the chapter on We'wha in my upcoming book, NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves.)

So for a long time I've tried to shift my focus onto the gratitude part of the holiday.

But this year, I was inspired by my friends April and Lori to do a little more. I've lived in Los Angeles since 1991 (twenty-nine years now!) but in all that time, I've never really dug into the history of who lived here before. Before the white people. Before the Spanish.

 It took me two Google searches to find a website created by the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation.

The first search took me to a website on the history of my neighborhood that had this line about the Gabrielina-Tongva people who lived here, "Eventually, they shared the land and sea—the good duck hunting and steel-head trout fishing—with the Spanish explorers and, in time, with the first Angelenos.” which sounds like a page out of the happy Pilgrims holding hands with Native people singing campfire songs "history" I learned in school. 

Clearly I needed to find a website written by members of the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation. I found it here:

That's where I learned that:

The Gabrielino-Tongva Nation has been indigenous to the Los Angeles Basin for 7,000 years. This history is well-documented through 2,800 archaeological sites, in State historical records and federal archives, and Catholic church records at San Gabriel Mission and San Fernando Mission.

Their struggle for official recognition:

In 1994, the State of California recognized the Tongva in Assembly Joint Resolution 96, chaptered by the California Secretary of State as Resolution chapter 146, Statutes of 1994. The Joint Resolution states that the State of California “recognizes the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation as the aboriginal tribe of the Los Angeles Basin and takes great pride in recognizing the Indian inhabitance of the Los Angeles Basin and the continued existence of the Indian community”.

And that they still do not have federal recognition:

The Gabrielino-Tongva are one of two state-recognized tribes and the best-documented tribe in the State without federal recognition.
I recognize this is a small step, but it feels important to acknowledge that I live on the ancestral lands of the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation.

With the help of my friend Lori, I found out about this very cool website that tracks - worldwide - the ancestral location of Native nations. It's at

They call out the Chumash, Tongva, and Kizh nations as being native to where I live... 

Clearly, I have more homework to do!

I'd like to encourage you to do the two-step process for where you live. Find some history on your neighborhood. And then dig a little deeper, and find that history written by the Native people descended from those who lived where you live, hundreds -- if not thousands -- of years ago.

And then check our your neighborhood on, with links to the websites of the Native nations cited.

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

Monday, November 23, 2020

Federal Policies that Contributed to Segregation - And the Disparities between White and Black Wealth

Watch this eight and a half minute video,  Segregation Myth: Richard Rothstein Debunks An American Lie


The part about Black wealth today being 10% of white wealth, as a direct result of this federal housing subsidy helping white families where it held back Black families, was really eye-opening for me.

Important to know, and to think about.

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

P.S. - my thanks to Dr. James Pogue for sharing this as part of his No Nonsense Experience, a four-part DEI training I'm taking as part of my job at the Independent Book Publishers Association. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Advocating for LGBTQ Students With Disabilities - A New Guide

From the Human Rights Campaign, The National Association of School Psychologists, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National Education Association, comes this "Advocating for LGBTQ Students with Disabilities" guide.

As quoted in a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, 

“It is critical that school administrators and educators have the tools to address the needs of all LGBTQ students, including LGBTQ students with disabilities,” said Asaf Orr, Director of the Transgender Youth Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights and co-author of the publication. “This resource will ensure that schools know how to comply with their legal obligations to LGBTQ students with disabilities by providing a roadmap for creating IEPs and 504 Plans that meet their unique learning needs.”

The Guide for Educators and Parents/Guardians on Supporting LGBTQ Students With an IEP or 504 Plan is seven pages, and also includes the voices of a few students:

“It was so helpful when the school counselor met with me and the teacher who sponsors the school GSA. I was able to tell them about how I didn’t feel safe using the girls’ bathroom. I had been so scared to tell anyone else about it before. They talked about how this could be addressed through my IEP so I could start using the boys’ bathrooms since that’s how I identify.” – Transgender student with disabilities

Happy to amplify, and acknowledge the intersectionality of many within our Queer and Disabled communities.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The U.S. Flag - Mixed Emotions About the Message It Sends, and a Cool New Version

My friend April Powers posted (over on LinkedIn) about her concern that the message sent by flying the U.S. flag on last week's Veteran's Day would be mistaken for support for the current president. She shared a link to Nasty Women Get Shit Done's alternatives, which I think are pretty awesome.

It reads: 
"In Our America: All People are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrant & Refugees Are Welcome, Disabilities Are Respected, Women Are In Charge Of Their Bodies, People & Planet Are Valued Over Profit, Diversity Is Celebrated"

There's also a version in español:

And a Queer pride version, too:

Check them out here.

Thanks, April!

And yeah, I will feel better about the U.S. flag – about our country, actually – once Biden and Harris represent and lead us.

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

Contra Costa County Library: Indie Author Talk with Lee Wind

Click here to watch my recent "Indie Author Day" presentation, done virtually with the Contra Costa County Library.

My thanks to librarian David Greene for the invite, and to everyone for watching.

Stay safe,

Friday, November 13, 2020

"Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing" is available for Pre-Order! (celebratory note: I'm one of those 50!)

Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children's Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing, edited by Melissa Stewart.

This is exciting, and a real honor to be included...

The book is published by the National Council of Teachers of English, and Melissa, who edited and organized the whole thing, has published over 180 nonfiction books for kids!

Here's the blurb from NCTE:

In Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep, some of today’s most celebrated writers for children share essays that describe a critical part of the informational writing process that is often left out of classroom instruction. To craft engaging nonfiction, professional writers choose topics that fascinate them and explore concepts and themes that reflect their passions, personalities, beliefs, and experiences in the world.

By scrutinizing the information they collect to make their own personal meaning, they create distinctive books that delight as well as inform. In addition to essays from mentor authors, the book includes a wide range of tips, tools, teaching strategies, and activity ideas from editor Melissa Stewart to help students (1) choose a topic, (2) focus that topic by identifying a core idea, theme, or concept, and (3) analyze their research to find a personal connection. By adding a piece of themselves to their drafts, students will learn to craft rich, unique prose.

And the list of contributors (the other 49 besides me) is impressive! The book features essays from essays by Sarah Albee, Chris Barton, Donna Janell Bowman, Mary Kay Carson, Nancy Castaldo, Jason Chin, Lesa Cline-Ransome, Seth Fishman, Candace Fleming, Kelly Milner Halls, Deborah Heiligman, Susan Hood, Gail Jarrow, Lita Judge, Jess Keating, Barbara Kerley, Heather Lang, Cynthia Levinson, Michelle Markel, Carla Killough McClafferty, Heather Montgomery, Patricia Newman, Elizabeth Partridge, Baptiste Paul, Miranda Paul, Teresa Robeson, Mara Rockliff, Barb Rosenstock, Laura Purdie Salas, Anita Sanchez, April Pulley Sayre, Steve Sheinkin, Ray Anthony Shepard, Anita Silvey, Traci Sorell, Tanya Lee Stone, Jennifer Swanson, Stephen R. Swinburne, Don Tate, Laurie Ann Thompson, Pamela Turner, Patricia Valdez, Sandra Neil Wallace, Laurie Wallmark, Jennifer Ward, Carole Boston Weatherford, Paula Yoo, and Karen Romano Young.

And me!

Really proud to be part of this.

Gratitude to Melissa for the opportunity, and to the readers out there who need to hear that Queer nonfiction for Kids and Teens has an important (and impassioned) place at the table, too!

If it sounds like your jam, you can preorder the book here:

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Watch this 8 minute video: "How American Slavery Helped Create Modern Day Policing"

So much work to do to make our country - and world - a better place. A good way to move forward on being antiracist and better understanding what Black and brown people in the USA face is to learn about this connection: How American Slavery Helped Create Modern Day Policing

My thanks to Felice León, Producer of The Root, and host of this episode of Unpack That, for sharing this, and to Dr. James Pogue for recommending this video.

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

Monday, November 9, 2020


In which I can breathe again.

For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful about the future of this country I love and call home.

Hurray for U.S.A. President Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris!

So grateful.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Where's Lee? Attending a virtual SCBWI & Smithsonian Nonfiction Conference - and Blogging it, too!

 It's a first!

SCBWI and the Smithsonian have teamed up to offer this unique two-day opportunity for those of us who craft nonfiction work for children and teens.

I'll be live-blogging highlights of the event at the Official SCBWI Conference Blog, so join me there! Or, if you're attending as well, give me a virtual wave hello.

Stay safe, all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Democrats were hoping for a repudiation of Trump selfishness and Republican hypocrisy. We'll take a Win.

It may take some patience here. 

Hopefully we'll have good news for the arc of justice -- and our country, and our world -- with a Biden/Harris win and a Democratic-controlled Senate in a few days.

Joe Biden's election night speech, "We feel good about where we are.... We believe we're on track to win this election.... We're going to have to be patient.... And it ain't over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted."

Deep breaths til then.

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

Monday, November 2, 2020

Van Jones TED Talk: What if a US Presidential Candidate Refuses to Concede After an Election?

This was eloquent and super-important.

I hope it's a landslide for Biden/Harris, and we aren't dragged there. But this is important to know about. My thanks to Cindy for sharing it with me, so I could share it here with you.

Stay safe, and if you haven't yet, VOTE!