I'm back!

"Homeless: The Motel Children of Orange County", airing on HBO this Monday (permission granted to use promotional material on this blog)

OK, so I know I’ve taken a month off, and you might not believe me, but I really needed it (in my defense, I have been working – mainly on business plan-related stuffness, just not on the blog.  Oops.)  The book is currently going through the refining/editing process and there are lots of little tweaks to be made, and it’s also been the worst heat wave in SoCal for who knows how long.  I’m serious, there have been days here where the heat reached 115 degrees, and the swamp coolers don’t seem to be working all that effectively in that kind of heat.  I don’t do well in the heat, and that just kind of makes me want to sprawl out like a fried eel, twitch a little, and die.

But things are better now, heat is abating a bit, and I’m feeling in a much better frame of mind!  So, without additional fanfare, here are some links for you, my lovely loyal readers:

Homeless Californian man breaks into closed-down bar, re-opens it, and sells drinks.  I’ve gotta admit, this one is my favorite.  No, I don’t advocate violating liquor laws, trespassing on private property, etc.  It can and will get you arrested, as you’ll read.  BUT, this guy is epic.  It takes vision and creative thinking to do what he did (OK, and also desperation and a set o’ big brass balls.  But still.)  He lasted for FOUR DAYS before he was busted.  That’s oddly brilliant.

Andrea Star Reese photographs underground homeless living in Harlem.  Check out the photoblog.  What I really loved about this story was how much respect and dignity Reese treated these people with.  She took a long time to slowly gain their trust, never photographed them without explicit permission, and never did so in an exploitative manner.  She established lasting friendships with them and allowed their humanity to rise to the surface.  She also uses aliases for their protection.

“Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County” documentary.  I’m an Orange County native, so this really hits home for me.  The documentary explores the interesting dichotomy – one of the wealthiest counties in California, with more bajillionaires per capita than almost anywhere…with over 30,000 homeless children, many of them living out of motels.  The documentary is premiering this Monday, July 26th, on HBO.

Panera Bread opens a St. Louis, MO nonprofit community café where customers pay only what they can afford.  That’s right, they’re on the honors system.  Homeless and needy people pay nothing at all, and others are trusted to donate what they can afford.  Watch the video; it’s pretty amazing!  Panera Bread is planning to open two more community cafés within the next two months.

And of course, the Obama administration has unveiled a plan for ending homelessness.  They say that their goal is to wipe out family and child homelessness within 10 years, and chronic homelessness/veteran homelessness within 5 years.  Which is all fine and dandy, but the lack of details leaves me a bit cynical, to be honest.  How are they going to achieve this?  And what are homeless people supposed to do in the meantime?  1 year is hard enough.  What do they do for the next 5 or 10?  4,000 Section 8 vouches is a start, but to be honest, it’s not going to make all that much of a dent, overall.  I’ll hope that this initiative makes some difference, but again, I’m kind of skeptical.

* * * * *

Brief self-plug:  I was in Publishers Weekly a few days ago!!! They were interviewing my editor about how Harlequin is expanding its nonfiction line.  True, I was only in 2 sentences, but hey, out of 39 nonfiction books they’re releasing this year and next year, only 4 titles were mentioned, and mine was one of them, so I’m feeling all warm and squiggly.  Also, they have “high hopes” for me!  Wow, no pressure or anything, haha.

Also, I’m apparently going to be in Writer’s Digest magazine (just did the interview today).  I’m not sure when that will be, but when I know the publication date, I’ll let you guys know.  I’m going to be brave (or foolhardy) and put my complete ignorance out on display:  Is Writer’s Digest like Reader’s Digest, but for writers?   :-\  Update:  Readers, Facebook friends, and the interviewer himself have all e-mailed me to say that Writer’s Digest is apparently a BFG (Big Feckin’ Deal).  So, woot!

* * * * *

Disclaimer: If you're on the more conservative side, please don't send me hate mail about the album title. I didn't name it, I just like listing to it. It IS (excellent!) ballroom music...

Additional (non-homelessness-related) shameless plug for a friend and all-around nice guy:

So, I won Lee Presson’s new ballroom album by answering a trivia question correctly (yay! I never win anything!!!) and it’s fantabulous and such. You guys should all check it out. Lee Presson and the Nails do quirky/gothic-y/awesomely slightly creepy swing, mostly. But this album puts their unique twist on several other kinds of ballroom, too. My favorite tracks are “The Resurrection Waltz”, “The Mr. Crowley Tango”, and their swing cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” (the album is available on iTunes, but you only get the “Lithium” bonus track if you order directly from Lee’s website at the above link, so I advise going that route!)  Lee’s been having a rough-ish time lately (his beloved car just broke down, etc.) and he could really use the support.  Plus, the album is great listening.  So, yeah…I highly recommend. Buy it ‘n stuff!



* * * * *


  1. Heya,

    Writer’s Digest is a resource for those of us still in the “Oh please please please there’s gotta be someone willing to publish me!” stage, as well as those folks who’re making a living writing professionally: it’s got skill-building articles and the like, professional contacts, that sort of thing. It’s a good resource that a lot of folks I know swear by (another is Poets & Writers).

    The special on motel kids sounds like something folks in Orange County should definitely be watching. People around here tend to forget that in an area with south county billionaires and posh Anaheim Hills/YL-types, there’s still plenty of people in areas with no help and no support. I hope this special changes things, but I had the same hope for a one-act Terry had at Stages a few years back, and I don’t know that anyone noticed anything beyond entertainment value.

  2. I’ve been reading (following)your adventures since the beginning and I was happy to see your post today..Unfortunatly people do drop off the planet without notice and I did not want you to be one of them.So I’m glad to hear you are doing better, To steal a line (You’ve come along way baby)..But Since Your kindness too animals kept me in attendance to your plight,I wanted to hear an update on Fezzik


  3. @Cori Good to know! I wasn’t sure whether it was a bigger magazine or not…very lucky, I guess :)

    @Chuck Fezzik is doing pretty well. He was actually attacked by another dog last week (unprovoked and while on leash) and has a pretty deep leg wound that’s being treated, but he’s all stoic and it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. He’s still bouncy as anything and very snuggly/cuddly/velcro puppy. You don’t want to see the other dog, though :-\ He’s recovering, but attacking a Neo Mastiff twice as large as you is never a good idea. Sigh.

  4. I have A pix of my dog Sammy A coton de tulear if there is a way to send it to you..15 Lbs and wirery

  5. I’d love to see! info@girlsguidetohomelessness.com!

  6. I’m appalled that there are over 35,000 homesless kids in Organge County. Why are they drawn to Orange? Is it the glorious culture of freedom that CA and Orange County are portrayed with? Are they runaways who have found a safe haven with each other? 35,000 kids is a whole city of kids. That’s one huge school district of kids, and now to understand that they are homeless and obviously educationless? It’s overwhelming.

    BTW, the answer is not to give Section 8 housing to anyone. The answer is to relocate and find these people employment, especially veterans. All soldiers should have the opportunity to work for the government as civilians, if they so desire.

  7. (from your YouTube video)HELLO THERE!
    You say only 25% of homeless are on drugs or alcohol in your YouTube video. I was wondering where you got these statistics. It seems to me it would be difficult to get accurate statistics because as you say %75 are clean homeless that are hiding away and homeless addicts are more visible. Did they go and count each homeless person and ask if they where on drugs? How can you quantify that with any accuracy. (:
    I’m glad you got a Job. I hope you got a place to live by now.

  8. That depends on which study/survey you read. I’ve read government studies for 2008-2009 that say as low as 15% and some as high as 1/3 (or about 33%). Still, most seem to settle around the 20-25% mark (substance abuse numbers are higher than mental illness numbers, which tend to be around 15%). Plus there’s obviously going to be some overlap between the two.

    Like you said, though, it’s difficult to count, as many homeless move around and/or blend in.

    Also, as I constantly point out, I don’t care if the number is 90%. Homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental illness need and deserve help. They need help far more than someone like me, who is at least capable of pulling herself up by her bootstraps – others have no bootstraps to pull themselves up by. I will never be the one to judge and try to say that some homeless people deserve assistance and others don’t.

Speak Your Mind