Cyndi Lauper has launched a new project in the US aimed at empowering and advocating on behalf of homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, and raising awareness of the problems they face.
Forty to None has produced a public service announcement featuring Cyndi Lauper and young people from various New York City based service providers, including the True Colors Residence, The Door, Green Chimneys, and Safe Space, that presents the realities of LGBT youth homelessness through tangible statistics, and encourages the audience to get informed and get involved in the Forty to None Project (see video below).
via Video: Cyndi Lauper launches organisation for homeless LGBT youth in the US – PinkNews.co.uk.
Norelle Done posted her recent review of Painted Black at her Seattle Wrote blog site. She gave the book four out of five stars, which is a win by anyone’s calculations. Here’s how she tallied up the score.
Amidst frozen corpses, a funeral home scandal, and each character dealing with their own ghosts and closet skeletons, this novel comes down to a key point – the people that live on the streets are mostly forgotten when they disappear.
- Plot: Painted Black is easy to follow, interesting, and gets you hooked – I was drawn into Lexie’s plight and found Jo’s investigation easy to keep up with. The story flowed well and fit together like a puzzle, and it didn’t feel too coincidental either. Star Awarded.
- Characters: I felt like Deb went 75 percent of the way with the characters. There was back story, but it wasn’t resolved or fully explained, such as what really happened with Jo’s dad, or Chris’ family, or more into why Jack is involved with the homeless. Maybe there will be more in future Jo Sullivan books, but I was slightly left hanging with this one. Half-Star Awarded.
- Setting: The setting for Painted Black is supposed to be Chicago, but I found myself feeling like it was Seattle more than once. Granted, I have never been to Chicago, and all of the Seattle-based books I read probably tainted things a little bit, but I feel like more could have been done to make it feel like Chicago. However, the book did have the trait of feeling like it could be any city, and with the focus on the homeless, it could help the reader to adopt the story for their own city. Half-Star Awarded.
- Originality: It’s definitely a unique story. From the characters to Deb’s intimate understanding of what the homeless face, Painted Black is a one-of-a-kind story. Star Awarded.
- Style: I noticed one or two errors, but none were glaring or distracting. Star Awarded.
That’s a total of Four Stars. Borys depicts the street life and struggles in an engaging, interesting way that draws you in and helps give a little perspective into the lives of the homeless. Maybe the next time you see someone huddled in a door frame or sleeping on a park bench, they won’t be quite so invisible.
via Seattle Wrote: Painted Black Review
V.S. Grenier from Families Matter gave me a chance to do a guest post at their site. In it I offer suggestions for alternate ways to respond to a homeless person who asks you for money. I’ll be doing a podcast interview with Family Matters in May or June and will post the date once it’s confirmed.
The most important thing to do when confronted by a homeless person is to NOT jump to conclusions. Keep in mind that the person in front of you is a PERSON first, just like you. Unless you know a person’s whole story, you should never pass judgment on how they are living their lives.
via SFC Blog: Families Matter: Guest Post: Sharing Their Stories by Debra R. Borys.
I learned about a great program in Chicago that offers Adventure Programming to at-risk youth. I am marking the site because I just know I’ve got to use this program in an upcoming Jo Sullivan novel somewhere. Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) believes teaching things like kayaking, rock climbing, cycling and hiking can make a big difference in improving a youth’s outlook on life and offers hope for their future.
There’s a great blog on the site as well, and I found one story about a young man that reminds me an awful lot of the character Chris in Painted Black, who is the embodiment of a couple of youth I personally met myself when I volunteered. Here’s an excerpt from one post that is exactly the kind of thing Chris would do.
[Here’s] how he helped one of the mentors with his program on our camping trip: She was terrified of heights, to the point of tears and hyperventilation. “Rico” went back down the trail, sat with her, talked with her, and then walked back up the trail slowly right in front of her so she could watch his feet, and make it up the trail.
via In the Balance | Chicago Adventure Therapy.
Painted Black is fiction. Or is it? In it I tried, as all writers do, to create a world as real as the one we walk around in all the time. For Painted Black, I tried to reflect what it actually feels like to be homeless on the streets. Because once a person experiences that, their misconceptions about the kind of people they meet there undergoes major change for the better.
It is sometimes difficult to tell which comes first, the reality or the fiction. I moved to Chicago from small town Illinois specifically with the idea in mind of having an opportunity to volunteer with the homeless. I know I had already begun writing my Jo Sullivan series before the move, but can’t remember now when I decided to center each book around the life of a homeless character. Does the writer write what she dreams and then find herself living it, or does the act of writing spark change in the life of the writer?