Friday, December 18, 2020

Vacation Message... Me, You, and Hello, 2021!

2020 has been a year. (At times it's felt more like a decade...)

But here we are! 

My three part vacation message...

#1: Me:

I'll be taking the next two weeks off of blogging, because one thing I've learned is that self-care is not something that you only cram into the available spaces in your life - I need to make the time to take care of myself, on an ongoing basis, or nothing else will work right. (Including me!) 

Julia Cameron, in her amazing The Artists Way, talks about filling the well:

“As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them-- to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well.” —Julia Cameron

So for the next two weeks, I'll be filling my well.

#2: You:

I hope you'll take the time to do something kind for yourself, too. Maybe read one of the LGBTQ teen and kid books featured on this blog in the past twelve months. Maybe go for a walk in nature. Or spend the afternoon baking on Zoom with a friend or loved one. Slow down. Breathe. Maybe your well could use some filling, too.

#3 Hello, 2021!

I'll be back blogging in January. And we'll continue the journey, together.

Until then, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Verona Comics - Two Bi/Pan Teens Fall for Each Other... But then the World Doesn't See Them as Queer Anymore

Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them–that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible . . . unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

I really loved this interview in Publishers Weekly with the author where she said,

"I knew I wanted to feature two bi/pan kids in a relationship, particularly one who could appear heteronormative to outsiders. As a queer woman married to a man, I know firsthand the stigma and loss of community that can accompany a bi person entering a relationship with someone of a different gender. Unfortunately, biphobia is something that runs rampant not just in the world at large, but also within queer spaces. It was important to me to show bi/pan teens that it’s okay! You are still valid, and your sexuality is not defined by the person you are dating at any particular moment in time. That was something I desperately needed to hear when I was growing up." -Jennifer Dugan

So cool that she paid it forward in this novel (pun intended) way.

Add your review of Verona Comics in comments!

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Spotlight Series - Country music superstar Grady Dawson meets celebrity stylist Nico Takahashi (it's a Gay romance!) And Gwen (Nico's business partner) has a Lesbian love triangle of her own!

The Spotlight Series by Lilah Suzanne

BROKEN RECORDS: Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make his peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in their way of their private attraction to each other?

BURNING TRACKS: Gwen Pasternak’s got it all. Or so it seems… In the sequel to RT Book Reviews’ Top Pick Broken Records, Gwen’s life looks perfect: She has a job she loves as stylist to the stars; a beautiful wife, Flora; and a house in the heart of Nashville. But the more she works alongside country music’s dynamic princess Clementine Campbell, the less Gwen is certain of her commitment to a life of domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner Nico Takahashi is happily settled down with reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson. But when Nico questions the permanence of their relationship, Grady retreats into some dangerous old habits. Will Gwen ruin the life she’s built with Flora for something new and exhilarating? Can Grady be convinced of Nico’s devotion before it’s too late? Burning Tracks is a story of tough choices, taking risks, and the pressures of living life in the spotlight.

BLENDED NOTES: Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist-turned-lover, turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company levels demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation of Grady’s new life begins to crumble, and fast. Will he be forced to make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?

The publisher, Interlude Press, is selling all three books as a boxed set with a bonus short story about Clementine.

Add your review of "Broken Records," "Burning Tracks," and/or "Blended Notes" in comments!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Dark and Deepest Red - Two Tales (One Medieval and One Modern) That Interweave and Queer 'The Red Shoes' Fairy Tale

Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva's feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever's history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there's more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
Read an interview with the author here.

Add your review of "Dark and Deepest Red" in comments!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Highlights from the Latinx KidLit Book Festival's Panel with LGBTQ+ Latinx Writers!


clockwise from top left: Jonny Garza Villa, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Aiden Thomas, Mark Oshiro, and Laura Pohl.

I so enjoyed watching this discussion with Jonny Garza Villa (FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES FROM THE SUN), Anna-Marie McLemore (DARK AND DEEPEST RED), Tehlor Kay Mejia (WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE), Mark Oshiro (EACH OF US A DESERT). Laura Pohl (THE LAST 8) and Aiden Thomas (CEMETERY BOYS)!

Moments that resonated for me included:

"Queerness is actually a very magical thing." –Aiden Thomas

"We're all kinds of works in progress in terms of identity... and that's okay and beautiful." –Anna-Marie McLemore

On not centering straight, cis, whiteness in his work: "these are the stories I want to tell...and who I am." –Mark Oshiro

"I would like this... but make it Gay." –Laura Pohl on finding her inspiration in other media

"For me, writing intersectional stories is a lot about having privilige in one area and not as much in another, and how you navigate that." –Tehlor Kay Mejia

'I want to celebrate everything I am now... to let kids/teens today know THEY can be themselves.' –Jonny Garza Villa

If you didn't catch it, you can watch the recorded panel discussion here.

My thanks to all the panelists!

Monday, December 7, 2020

The November/December 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter: Chaos and its antidote, an author update, book recommendation, and more!

click here or above to watch the video 


Hi Community! I'm Lee Wind. It's December 2020, and this is the November/December 2020 Newsletter. It's been quite a few months, and I think what I've realized is that there are certain people that thrive on creating chaos, including the current occupant of the White House.

And I've also realized that I don't thrive on chaos. I thrive on being grounded, and breathing. Like in meditation or in yoga, when you have a solid foundation, then you can stretch and grow and expand. Like roots of a tree and reaching up to the sky.

It's been a very, very challenging time, and I just want to acknowledge that. And I hope that you and yours are well and safe and are finding moments of being grounded so you can thrive, too.

So it's the video newsletter. I have a few updates. The first, about author stuff...

I'm very honored to be one of 50 authors participating in "Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep" which is an amazing compilation of essays, an anthology of essays, orchestrated and edited by Melissa Stewart, who has so many amazing nonfiction books for kids that are out there. And she wants to let people know that nonfiction comes from a place of passion, too. It isn't just facts and dates. 

Which I love, because I really believe, so strongly, that history to me was taught as medicine, and I think it should be like chocolate, and that's really the whole idea behind my new book coming out, "No Way, They Were Gay? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves."

So I was really excited to be part of that and it's available for preorder now! So that's really cool and exciting.

I want to tell you about a book I read recently that I really loved. "You Brought Me The Ocean" - which is a graphic novel. It's sort of the origin story of Aqualad. Written by Alex Sanchez and illustrated by Julie Maroah. Julie is the creator of "Blue is the Warmest Color," which was amazing, and Alex of course has done "Rainbow Boys," and "The God Box," and so many other powerful Queer teen novels. I'm very excited to tell you that this book was amazing. I savored it! It was so beautifully drawn, and the story was so exciting. They're young Queer kids of color and Oh, yes! You must read it. It was so great!

Inspiration! So this month - these two months - the words I'm finding really inspiring, that are helping me stay grounded, are the words of Bayard Rustin. Actually, so inspirational that it is the opening spread of the chapter on Bayard Rustin in my upcoming nonfiction book.

This is - what is this, you ask? - this is a printout of an early version of a draft of the book - of the ARC - which is very exciting. You can see that it's very dynamic and exciting. It won't be in oranges, I don't know, my printer ink went wonky. It is black and grays. The quote from Bayard Rustin is right here, it's sort of a pull quote from later in the chapter, and it says:

"...If we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gays. It will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all." —Bayard Rustin, in a 1986 interview

I love that. Right? We can't each just be for ourselves. We have to stand up for everyone that is disenfrancished, for everyone who is left out, for everyone who is not getting their voices heard, and stand up together and then we will eliminate injustice for everyone at the same time. I love that vision. I love that that was 1986, and it feels like it could  have been said today. So, Bayard Rustin, an amazing forefather of our modern Gay rights movement, and a real big player in the Civil Rights movement. He was the guy who organized the big march on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. made that amazing "I have a dream" speech. You'll find out lots more about Bayard in the book, but that really inspires me.

The final thing I wanted to share is gratitude. That I've very grateful that you're part of my community and I'm part of your community. Because truly, community is the antidote to chaos. And so, I invite you to take a deep breath with me. (inhale...  exhale) 

And I want to thank you, and I want to tell you that the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.

Happy holidays, stay safe. Bye.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Check out the Latinx KidLit Book Festival! (December 4-5, 2020)

I'm really excited about this online, free Latinx KidLit Book Festival - and especially delighted that there's a panel including Queer Latinx creatives in KidLit, DE COLORES: A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH LGBTQ+ LATINX WRITERS (happening Friday, December 4, 2020, from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern Standard Time EST) 

Here's that session description:

Being Latinx and anywhere within the LGBTQIA+ spectrums brings its own set of unique circumstances, often shaped by gendered language, heteronormative cultural norms, and deeply held religious teachings. Especially growing up, we can often feel the conflict between tradition and expectation against the pull of our heart and soul toward happiness, seeing and being seen as our complete selves. How do our experiences walking within these intersectional identities shape the stories we tell and what meaning do these identities carry across genres? Hear from authors Jonny Garza Villa (FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES FROM THE SUN), Anna-Marie McLemore (DARK AND DEEPEST RED), Tehlor Kay Mejia (WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE), Mark Oshiro (EACH OF US A DESERT). Laura Pohl (THE LAST 8) and Aiden Thomas (CEMETERY BOYS) on creating these powerful novels, and what shapes their stories, their characters, and their hopes for young LGBTQ+ readers who come across their writing.

Can't wait!

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

When a Bully Is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times - A Picture Book I Wish I'd Had Back in Nov 2016 (And Still Useful Now, for the Next 50 Days - And Beyond, When We Look Back at Trump and Go, "What the Heck was THAT?")

When a Bully Is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times by Maya Gonzalez

Self-Care for Kids! A children's book to talk about current and historical oppression and bullying in the United States while focusing on the important role kids can play using creativity and self love as a base to develop strength during difficult times.

Playful ink and watercolor illustrations support a powerful journey that touches on bullying in the founding history of the US, how that history may still be impacting kids and families today, and ways to use creativity and self-respect in the face of negative messages for all marginalized communities. The first part of the book briefly acknowledges the United States’ past and present and shows some basic forms of activism that kids engage in. The next part talks about walking away from a bully or de-escalation and focusing on how to take care of yourself and community. Finally practical ways creativity and portraiture can be used to support self-respect and spread respect in community are explored. Communities reflected include Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Chicanx, LGBTQ Americans, disabled Americans, Americans who identify as women and girls, Muslim and Sikh Americans, Jewish Americans and Asian Americans. The back includes related resources and referrals. Hardcover version also includes a reading guide for adults, community project and art & witnessing worksheets to copy. Paperback version just includes the art & witnessing worksheets.

This book is not a hero’s tale or the journey of a brave fight. This book is for the in between moments, the middle of the night, the long afternoon: those moments when kids are haunted by what someone said to them in the hallway, a sideways stare at the store or what they heard on the news. It’s about gathering strength for life’s every day journey and supporting a strong full self all the time.

Check out this video of the author/illustrator reading the book and sharing a mix of the art in progress and finished art.

Add your review of "When a Bully Is President" in comments!