Wednesday, January 20, 2021

SCBWI Queer Voices Panel Highlights

 I was delighted to attend SCBWI's Queer Voices Panel on January 14, 2021!

The Queer Voices Panelists with their books!


top row: Sign language interpreter Jennye Kamin; moderator Phil Bildner with a copy of Phil's middle grade novel A High Five For Glenn Burke; Mike Curato with a copy of Mike's YA graphic novel, Flamer.

middle row: Alex Gino with a copy of Alex's George and Rick; Abdi Nazemian with a copy of Abdi's Like a Love Story.

lower row: J Yang with a copy of J's Spirit Day; and Kaylynn Bayron with a copy of Kaylynn's Cinderella is Dead.

Some highlights:

Kaylynn speaking of her Cinderella is Dead: "Black girls team up to overthrow the patriarchy." And on unlearning while centering Queer black girls in her writing.

J speaking of the impact of the secondary Trans character in Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound, and how "every single person I draw is Queer."

Bill on the four different decisions he played out (of his two main characters who meet at the top of The Bridge intending to jump to their deaths) and how he ultimately wants readers to know that "they are not alone." And wanting to see "more LGBTQ joy."

Abdi saying "Let's study history to repeat the best of it, not just avoid the worst of it." And how "even in the darkest moment, there is light." Also Abdi's describing reaching out to his Iranian community as an out Gay man to change hearts and minds.

Alex on the impact of Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw where they learned the term Gender Queer and how powerful that "access to language" was. And how there is no age too young to learn to be kind, compassionate, know yourself and others.

Mike on how the mouse in the Little Elliot books is nonbinary, how Mike's hope is for readers to know "there is light in you even if you can't see it yourself," and how having a Queer imprint at a major publisher would be a game-changer.

...and Phil speaking of how essential a thread of hope is in books for young people, and on the motivation for A High Five for Glenn Burke – to get the message out that "Queer kids play sports, too."

The whole panel was recorded and you can watch the video here at the SCBWI website.

Monday, January 18, 2021

"Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep" Launch Event Highlights!

I'm chuffed* to be one of the fifty nonfiction authors who contributed an essay to this remarkable collection, and 25 of us celebrated with a book launch party/panel hosted by The Writing Barn this past Saturday January 16, 2021. There were over 450 registrants, and the chat was flying by as each of us on the panel had the chance to answer one question each!

There was so much wisdom and inspiration shared by the authors brought together by Melissa Stewart (who conceptualized and edited the collection) and I thought sharing a few highlights would be fun:

Donna Janell Bowman with the metaphor of her picture book bios not being panorama shots, but done using a zoom lens.

Laura Purdie Salas sharing how she makes a list of 20 different approaches she could take with a new manuscript, to stretch herself and find the best one.

Paula Yoo on searching for great nuggets in the research that move the story forward and/or reveal the emotion of the main character.

Ray Anthony Shepard and Anita Silvey both speaking of how a single sentence to encapsulate the whole project is key.

Carole Boston Weatherford on how she creates works of art that are hybrids of poetry and other forms.

Laurie Wallmark saying we have to write about what we're interested in, that way kids will be interested, too.

Michelle Markel's advice on turning to books you wish you had written, "good writing is contagious and inspires you."

my turn! Thanks to Melissa Stewart for the photo (and the opportunity)!

And I shared, in answer to the question about gems of writing advice, a three-sided gem:

1) about being Gay, and how I didn't come out until my 20s, and so how everything I do is about being authentic and my mission is to empower young people be their authentic selves right now. Having a mission for everything I do creatively feels key.

2) How history, as it was taught to me, was presented as medicine. And how with my new nonfiction book coming out in April, NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves, I wanted to make it more like chocolate. Empowering chocolate. Having a vision for the book feels key, as well.

3) And how, with juggling a full time job, a part time job, writing and promoting my books, my marriage, parenting, family, and everything else, I used to think I needed a giant block of 3 or 4 hours to get anything creative done. And then Linda Sue Park shared her 12 minute writing sprint strategy with me: You set the timer on your phone for just 12 minutes, and tell yourself that's all you need to focus for. If the timer goes off and you're in the flow, you can set it for another 12 minutes, and then another, etc... But if all you have time for is one 12 minute writing sprint, at least you've written for that day. The secret is doing this daily... I'm more productive now, and feel more like a writer now, because of this method, than ever before. It's completely changed my creative life.

My contribution seemed well-received, with folks both commenting in the event chat and online that it resonated for them and they were excited to try the 12 minute writing sprints themselves. And a number really liked the idea of history not as medicine, but as chocolate!

I'm very excited about being part of NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP, published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). And it's really cool that proceeds from sales of the book are being split between SCBWI, NCTE, and WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS!

You can read more, and get a copy here (or wherever you buy books).

And the Writing Barn just posted the full video of the launch event here! (Available to watch through January 31, 2021.)

*A word I've learned since becoming a little bit obsessed with the Great British Baking Show. So much so that I asked my husband to make me scones for my birthday last week. They were scrummy.

Friday, January 15, 2021

The January 2021 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

So happy to share this fun moment with you all...

Click the video image below or click here to watch.


Hi everybody! This is Lee Wind. It's January 2021, it's my birthday, and I got a present. (Although, they didn't send it as a present.) But it's the ARCs for my new book, for NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY?

So this was the last time I saw it, right? In manuscript and I printed it out. And now, I've got to put on the gloves because cardboard is vicious. And now, I get to open it, and see it for the very first time!

And I thought, you know, it's kind of fun to do it as a video, so... careful not to kill myself with the Xacto knife...

And I have my family here, my husband behind the camera, my teenage daughter right here... Oh my gosh-oh my gosh-oh my gosh. WOW. It's a book!

Oh my gosh. It really looks like a book! That's so cool. Wow, this one's kind of... let's look at the one underneath it. Ah, it's a little, you know, it's still a little banged up but you know what? I love it anyway.

I'm so excited. Oh my gosh, look-look-look-look-look!

Ahhh! Oh my gosh. Oh. It looks so cool. 

Hey! That's me! (laughs)

Anyway, I'm really excited. Wow. It's available for preorder! And these are my ARCs. NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? HIDDEN LIVES AND SECRET LOVES by Lee Wind.

Anyway, wanted to share this moment with all of you, with the people I love best. Thank you. The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you. Until next time.

You can preorder a signed copy of No Way, They Were Gay from Pages: A Bookstore, my local indie - just click here!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Elatsoe - a YA Supernatural Mystery with an Asexual main character (who is also Lipan Apache)

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It's got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.

You can read about Darcie's debut novel being a Publishers Weekly flying start here.

Add your review of "Elatsoe" in comments!

Monday, January 11, 2021

I'm hosting the Queer #OwnVoices Social after this Thursday's "SCBWI Celebrates Queer Voices" Workshop! (And they're both FREE!)

SCBWI is launching a new series of FREE digital workshops, "SCBWI Celebrates #OwnVoices," and the first one will be this Thursday January 14, from 1pm-2:30pm Pacific, on Celebrating Queer Voices.

With authors Kalynn Bayron, Mike Curato, Alex Gino, Bill Konigsberg, Abdi Nazemian, and J Yang, and moderated by Phil Bildner, the discussion will cover:

"the joys and challenges of bringing queer representation into their work and the importance of telling the stories they wish they had as a kid."

The session will be held live on Zoom, and will be followed with a safe space social (hosted by me!) for those who identify as part of the Queer community. (That link will be provided during the live workshop.) If you're not able to attend live, the workshop will be recorded and made available on the SCBWI website by 1pm Friday January 15, 2021.

Here's more on the workshop faculty:

Phil Bildner (moderator) is the award-winning author of numerous books for kids including the 2021 Charlotte Huck Award Honor-winning, A High Five for Glenn Burke and the Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning picture book, Marvelous Cornelius. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed Rip & Red middle grade series. Phil taught middle school in the New York City Public School system for eleven years and is the founder of The Author Village, an author booking business.

Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of the award-winning YA fantasy Cinderella is Dead. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids.

Mike Curato is the author and illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. His debut title, Little Elliot, Big City, released in 2014 to critical acclaim, has won several awards, and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series, including Little Elliot, Big Family; Little Elliot, Big Fun; Little Elliot, Fall Friends; and Merry Christmas, Little Elliot. Mike had the pleasure of illustrating What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, and contributed to What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends and Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song. His latest books, released in 2020, are The Power of One written by Trudy Ludwig, and his first YA graphic novel, Flamer! Publishers Weekly named Mike a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Founder’s Award.

Alex Gino is the author of the middle grade novels Rick, You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! and the Stonewall Award-winning George. They love glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. For more information, visit

Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of six young adult novels, including Openly Straight and The Music of What Happens. His latest novel, The Bridge, is in development as a limited series at Amazon. In 2018, The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) established the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature. Prior to turning his attention to writing books for teens, Bill was a sportswriter and editor for The Associated Press and

Abdi Nazemian is the author of three novels. His first, The Walk-In Closet, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction. His most recent, Like a Love Story, an Indie Next Pick, Walden Award finalist and Junior Library Guild Selection, was awarded a Stonewall Honor, and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Audible, Buzzfeed, the New York Public Library, and more. His screenwriting credits include the films The Artist’s Wife, The Quiet, and Menendez: Blood Brothers, and the television series The Village and Almost Family. He has been an executive producer and associate producer on numerous films, including Call Me By Your Name, Little Woods, and Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and two children.

J Yang is a New York-based illustrator who happens to be a Chinese-American trans man. During quarantine, he has acquired a cherry shrimp hobby, learned a couple of new recipes, and has become a square-shaped grandma in a D&D campaign. You can find his work in Portrait of a Tyrant, Our Rainbow, Spirit Day, and upcoming The Good Hair Day and If You’re A Kid Like Gavin. J is currently at large.

Hope to see you there! (No registration required - just click here for the zoom link.)

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

Friday, January 8, 2021

They, She, He Easy as ABC - Inclusive Pronouns Help Readers Re-Wire Their Expectations About The Gender of Someone They've Just Met (A Picture Book I Definitely Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid!)

They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya Gonzalez + Matthew SG

Maya puts it beautifully in the book's back matter:
"...we love to sing they." One way we can make more room to include everybody is by learning the power of They! They is a great word. It can mean many people or just one and has been used for hundreds of years. When we don't know someone we can begin with they. This way we're not making guesses about who they are. We are leaving room for them to be themself. For example, "Look at that kid dancing. They are amazing!" If you meet that amazing dancer, they'll probably tell you their name and you'll learn from them which pronoun or pronouns they use to best express the spirit of who they are."
The power of this book really hit me on "H" - because each character is illustrated in joyously unique ways that don't necessarily telegraph their gender, I found myself looking at the names to try to guess the pronoun before reading it... 

on H, I read:
"Harvey's heart beats happily..." 
and I was all confident I had this one, but then the next line was 
 "hip hop makes her flow." 

And I got the whole point of this pretty and powerful book! 

One of the interior spreads

Here's the publisher's description:
They, She, He easy as ABC shows that including everyone is all part of the dance. It’s easy. It’s fundamental. As the dance begins the kids proclaim, “No one left out and everyone free,” in a sing-song rhyme about inclusion. This sets the stage for readers to meet 26 kids showing us their dance moves.

Fast-paced rhyming keeps the flow of text upbeat and rhythmic, and naturally models how to use a wide range of pronouns. There’s no room for stereotypes on THIS dance floor with spirited imagery that keeps names, clothes, hair and behavior fresh and diverse. The combination creates a playful and effortless practice to expand ideas about gender while learning the alphabet and makes being inclusive as easy as A-B-C.
I received a copy of this title from the publisher to review. Add your review of "They, She, He Easy as ABC" in comments!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Christmas Setup - a Gay Holiday (Christmas) Romance Where a Mom Tries to Set Up Her Grown Up Gay Son With the Guy He Crushed on Back in High School

Another movie I watched and really enjoyed over break was The Christmas Setup on Lifetime. 

Here's the synopsis:

New York lawyer Hugo (Ben Lewis) who heads to Milwaukee with his best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) to spend the holidays with his brother Aiden (Chad Connell) and his mom Kate (Fran Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick (Blake Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday festivities together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable and it looks as though Kate’s Santa-style matchmaking is a success. But as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him.

And here's the trailer:


After a lifetime of watching hetero romance holiday movies, this was so cool and affirming - and really sweet!

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

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Prom - A small-town teen wants to attend Prom with her girlfriend. The PTA cancels prom to stop them. Enter four down-on-their-luck Broadway actors to save (screw up) the day!

Directed by Ryan Murphy, this adaptation of the Tony-Award nominated musical, itself inspired by real-life anti-queer prom shinanigans, is on Netflix. 

I watched it over break, and really loved it. With some great performances, heartfelt moments, and songs I'm still singing along to days later, check out The Prom



 It's a fun way to start the new year! 


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