Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Heidi Cullinan for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Enjoy the Dance
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
Release Date: 09/08/2016
Dance with your heart, and love will follow.
Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.
Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.
But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.
Interview with Penny McGee
Interviews are a staple of blog tours, but this time I’d like to shake things up, because while I did my homework as best I could to write Enjoy the Dance, I’m by no means an expert. I wanted to let you hear from some people who know a lot more than me about the subjects touched on in the story, and one of those people is Penny McGee, Recruitment and Retention Manager at Iowa Kids Net.
LGBTQ youth in foster care come with all the challenges children in foster care face, and I know from my training those challenges begin mounting at an early age, that these children need extra help and are often last in line to get it. How can non-foster parents who want to help get involved? How can we make a difference?
There are many ways to get involved and help out. LGBTQ youth in the foster care system are clearly in need of foster families who can be truly affirming of their identities, and those interested in learning more about foster care can visit www.iowakidsnet.com. However, those who are not in a position to provide foster care can become involved by serving as a mentor for an LGBTQ identified youth, can provide LGBTQ affirming literature, magazines, music, or other media to congregate care facilities with libraries, support foster and adoptive families who reach out for support to groups such as PFLAG, and work to spread the word about the need for affirming foster homes to family, friends, places of business, or worship communities. A person interested in arranging or hosting a speaker about this topic can contact me at email@example.com.
Something we don’t talk a lot about in the Midwest but need to is the reality of human trafficking. I know Brooklyn Avenues shelter got started in part because local police officers couldn’t stand watching local homeless youth get swept up by traffickers. Can you speak to this issue at all, give us some real talk about how pervasive this issue is in our own backyards?
While I don’t have specific data to share, I do know that in recent years it has been discovered that Iowa is a hub for human trafficking due to it’s centralized location in the United States, and due to the interstate and highway systems that track across the state. There is an ever increasing amount of attention and public awareness about this issue, and a number of organizations and resources are teaming up to address the problem. In a model that can and should be replicated to address any number of significant social issues, law enforcement is joining forces with public and private entities in a multi-disciplinary partnership dedicated to identifying and rescuing human trafficking victims and arresting and seeking convictions for the users of the human trafficking system. YSS (Youth Standing Strong) in Ames and Family Resources in Davenport are just two agencies that have been working to address this issue since it first came to the attention of authorities.
I know you have stories, some you can share and some you can’t. Can you tell us about a situation or a youth who moved you? Something or someone who keeps you going when things get hard?
I have spent the majority of my professional career and adult life working with teens and their families, but it wasn’t until my spouse and I moved to Iowa and began serving as foster parents that I began to understand the circumstances that LGBTQ youth were facing in the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system. I have personally and professionally grown each time a youth has allowed me to join their journey, and they have taught me that remaining silent and passive in the face of inequity or injustice makes me an accomplice to that injustice.
You can donate to Youth Standing Strong, the Iowa organization referenced in this interview, at this link, to do your part to help Iowa LGBTQ homeless youth.
About the Author
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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