Monthly Archives: September 2011

Painted Black Rehash: Paying the Price

In order to prevent being homeless, I moved in with one of my male friends, “Steve.”

Things were going great until he started attempting to have sex with me. I don’t want to tell him no because he has opened his house to me and I would really rather not be homeless.

via Ask Amy advice on finances –

This young man’s letter illustrates one of the many reasons why kids end up on the streets.  Oftentimes it becomes a choice between two bad options.

Amy’s response is also pretty typical of the general public’s.  Instead of offering suggestions for how to deal with the sexually aggressive housemate, she derides the writer for being financial irresponsible which is why his parents kicked him out.

Kids on the streets are often both the instigator of their own situation at the same time they are victims of forces outside their own control.  Why do we so often point an accusatory finger at the individual instead of trying to help him/her overcome the circumstances that are hindering their growth?

Making the invisible visible

The young girl in the picture looks like your everyday average teenager, right?  And she is.  She just also happens to be homeless.

«Mark calls them “invisible people” because so often, they lurk unnoticed on the edges of society. We walk by them on the street, not seeing them or too busy or uncomfortable to stop. Do we give money? Do we buy them a sandwich? We don’t know, and so we pretend we don’t see them because there’s no easy answer.

We distance ourselves mentally, too. The homeless are drug addicts. The mentally-ill. Not us. Not like us. They’re homeless because they want to be, many say. They’re too lazy to do anything but ask for spare change. Not like us. It couldn’t happen to us.

Sitting next to AnnMarie, Doris Day kept singing in my brain. “I asked my mother what would I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here’s what she said to me….”

It didn’t sound so sweet this time. Whatever will be will be? What kind of answer is that? Here I was, sitting next to someone who felt so like me. And Sandra, and Reggie. They felt like me too. Why was I the one asking the questions while they asked for change?

It seems so cruel. AnnMarie and I were both little girls long ago, wondering what we would grow up to be. Did she ever imagine she would be sleeping in an empty lot, depending on the kindness of strangers?»

via Making the invisible visible – Megan Cottrell – One Story Up – True/Slant.

Front Cover Concepts

We have started playing with front cover ideas for Painted Black,  available soon.  We have three basic ideas we need to fine tune, based on the concepts below.  While the publisher, New Libri,  will have the last say as to which gets chosen, they do give serious consideration to my opinion, so I need everyone’s help.

Which of the following ideas would catch your eye at a book store, or on  Keep in mind the following brief synopsis:

A homeless man in a glass coffin, that’s all Jo Sullivan was looking for, some new material for her column in Winds of Change, a weekly rag willing to dust the dirt off the seamier side of Chicago. But after she nearly turns a graffiti artist into a hood ornament, the tip dropped by a fifteen year old prostitute starts to look more like a front page two inch headline . When the young girl disappears, her friend Chris hints of a room filled with corpses like a display at a wax museum, and Jo and Chris team up to uncover the truth behind Sloan and Whiteside’s funeral home.

Here are the ideas to choose from.  Please comment below or email me at

New Pongo Poetry

I am on the news list for this writing project in Seattle that is helping youth at risk express themselves through poetry.  I invite you to visit their site and maybe even purchase one of their books to support them, but more importantly, to learn a little what it is like to live the lives of these young poets.

The Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project is a volunteer, nonprofit effort with Seattle teens who are in jail, on the streets, or in other ways leading difficult lives. We help these young people express themselves through poetry and other forms of writing. In our work we ask the teens to speak from the heart about who they are as people, and the teens often respond by writing about traumatic losses that occurred when they were little children, losses such as the death of a parent, abandonment, neglect, abuse, and a parent’s addiction. These traumas from their childhood have left the teens feeling depressed, confused, angry, and prone to substance abuse and destructive acting-out. But the writing process makes a difference.

via Who We Are | Pongo Teen Writing.