Tuesday, October 21, 2014

To Anyone Who's Been Bullied… A virtual gift from Author Lauren Nicolle Taylor.

TO ANYONE WHO'S BEEN BULLIED…

A virtual gift from Author Lauren Nicolle Taylor.

Vocals, Videography and Art Done by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. 


YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! 

ADDITIONAL GIVEAWAY:

Hop over to our Clean Teen Publishing Facebook Page and tag the friends that you think are beautiful on our Beautiful post! (See our Facebook Page for details.) A random winner will receive this picture (autographed), as well as digital copies of all of Lauren Nicolle Taylor's books! 

ABOUT LAUREN NICOLLE TAYLOR:


Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013 and followed shortly by The Wall and The Wounded. The Wanted—the stunning conclusion to the series— is scheduled for release in October of 2014. 

Where to find Lauren: Blog / Facebook / Twitter


LAUREN'S BOOKS:


GIVEAWAY:


Please remember that we will have additional entry options for this giveaway with each new blog post we send! So make sure to subscribe to follow our blog by email to maximize your chances to win some amazing prizes that include a GRAND PRIZE: $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bullying Then and Now (A look back with N.W. Harris.) Plus, enter our giveaway!

BULLYING THEN AND NOW

(A look back with N.W. Harris.) 

If you met me, you’d probably never guess I was the type to get bullied in school. I’m five-feet-ten-inches tall, I take martial arts, I’m extremely fit, and just don’t generally look like the stereotypical person who’d get bullied. But, I was very small as a boy—second smallest in my grade for much of the time I was in school. My junior year of high school I weighed ninety-eight pounds soaking wet. So you see, back then, I was an ideal target for bullies. 

I was raised in a small town in North Georgia—much like the fictional Leeville in my book, The Last Orphans. I grew up during a time when kids got the belt for being bad at home and got the wooden paddle for being bad at school. To put it simply, it was a more violent time for children back then. I got paddled at school a few times when I was growing up, once for selling stink bombs to other kids—little glass vials my friend ordered out of the back of a comic books that would clear the hallways when broken on the floor. They smelled like a cross between a skunk and a rotten egg. Good times those, even if I did get my hide tanned for them. 

Bullying was commonplace in my school, and it wasn’t really labeled or regulated. I don’t ever remember being bullied by my own classmates—it was usually the older kids we had to worry about. For example, in the first grade, I remember three big girls, probably second or third graders, who would wait for me on the playground and beat the crap out of me on a daily basis. I don’t remember the teachers coming to the rescue, and, embarrassed at being beaten up by girls, I never told my dad. In my mind, it was just the way things were. I just had to endure it, living in fear of recess. 

I’ll admit, some of the bullying I endured was because I was a bit too cocky for my own good. Each morning, I’d walk down our mile-long driveway to the bus stop. The school bus ride took over an hour and was on some fairly rough dirt roads that kept the driver’s attention off of us kids and on the windshield. I could’ve sat near the front of the bus and been bothered a lot less—but no, not me! Everyday, I would march my scrawny butt to the back of the bus, where two large boys, who were at least five years older than me and twice my size and strength, sat. They ruled the back of the bus, saying that no kids younger than them could sit there, and no one could sit in their seats. The two massive bullies chewed tobacco and sat on the last bench seats on either side, sprawling out so no one could join them. 

Each day, I tried to erase any sign of fear or intimidation from my expression, took a deep breath, and climbed the steps onto the school bus. I’d walk straight toward the back with my tiny chest sticking out, determined to protest their rule of the back of the bus. As far as I was concerned, they had no right to those seats and they could share. What was I thinking? Not sure. I guess I’m just one of those people that is willing to bleed for what I believe in, and whose willing to be made a martyr if that’s what’s required to make my point. Anyways, I’d be walking to the back of the bus and they’d be looking at me, smiling wickedly. Their expressions always said the same thing, “Really, this kid is coming back for more!” 

The routine was the same each day. I’d sit down, and they’d say, “These seats are for older kids.” I’d object and they’d tell me that I couldn’t sit there unless I busted knuckles with them. So I would. Busting knuckles meant I had to make a fist and they’d punch my fist as hard as they could for much of the bus ride to school. I endured this abuse, refusing to relinquish my seat. My fists were always swollen and purple, and I’d hide them from my father—though to this day I’m not sure why. I never sought out help and approached that daily ride with fear. My ego and my sense of what was right wouldn’t allow me to back down, and on more than one occasion, the abuse was much worse than just busted knuckles. 

When my classmates and I made it to the ninth grade, we knew we’d be bullied by the upper classmen. It was just the way it was. I walked into Pickens High School for the first time with the horror stories my older brother had told me swirling in my head. No ninth grade boy survived the year without getting stuffed in a trashcan. I remember that horrible day when four big boys caught me in the gymnasium bathroom. I fought like a wolverine, scratching, punching and biting at them. They laughed and grappled me to the wet floor. They lifted me and shoved me headfirst into that dirty trashcan, though to my credit, they gave up after only getting me about halfway in. 

I have two children now, a boy and a girl. My son is much like me, on the smaller side, and he looks a few years younger than he actually is. I’m so glad the world has changed! I would not stand for him being abused like I was, not for a second. It’s important that we keep the bullying issue in the forefront of our minds. Kids shouldn’t be afraid to ride the school bus or to go to school. It is also important for parents and teachers to be aware that some kids will endure bullying and never complain about it. It is our responsibility as adults to protect the children, and know what is going on in their lives. They are so precious, they are our future, and they deserve to grow up happy and not live in a constant state of fear.

ABOUT N.W. HARRIS:


Born at the end of the Vietnam war and raised on a horse farm near small town north Georgia, N.W. Harris's imagination evolved under the swaying pines surrounding his family’s log home. On summer days that were too hot, winter days that were too cold, and every night into the wee morning hours, he read books.

N.W. Harris published his first novel—Joshua's Tree—in 2013. It was no wonder that with his wild imagination and passion for all things word related, that N.W. Harris was named a quarterfinalist in Amazon's Break Through Novel Award Contest. In early 2014, N.W. Harris joined the ranks with Clean Teen Publishing when they signed his new young adult apocalyptic adventure series—The Last Orphans. 

In addition to writing, N.W. Harris has been a submarine sailor, nurse, and business owner. His studies have included biology, anthropology, and medicine at UCSB and SUNY Buffalo. He is an active member of SCBWI and lives in sunny southern California with his beautiful wife and two perfect children. He writes like he reads, constantly.

 

CHECK OUT THE LAST ORPHANS! 


GIVEAWAY:

Before you enter this giveaway, let's add an extra 5 entries to this Rafflecopter today for just saying something nice to someone! Easy right? All you have to do is say something nice to someone to encourage them today. It can be a compliment, a few words of appreciation or whatever you think will bring a smile to their face. While it's not a requirement, we encourage you to look for someone who may need those extra words of encouragement today. Maybe it's someone going through a tough time or someone you don't normally speak to. You can write an encouraging post on their Facebook wall, Tweet them a message, send them a text, call them or tell them in person. It's up to you. We would even dare you to take this a step forward and do this every day. Make it a habit and make a difference. 


Please remember that we will have additional entry options for this giveaway with each new blog post we send! So make sure to subscribe to follow our blog by email to maximize your chances to win some amazing prizes that include a GRAND PRIZE: $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Every Story Needs a Villain (Thoughts on Bullying by K.C. Finn)

Every Story Needs A Villain

Thoughts on Bullying by K.C. Finn

The Anti-Bullying movement is a campaign which rises up in different shapes and forms all over the world, with one common intention: to raise awareness of bullying in all walks of life, and to encourage its prevention wherever possible. Those last two words – wherever possible –mean a lot to me in particular, and they form the basis of the issue I’d like to talk about today.

Physical violence in schools, colleges, the workplace and any other area of life is just plain wrong. If you see someone being physically bullied, you should always do whatever’s within your power to make it stop, whether that’s calling for the nearest authority, or stepping in yourself if you happen to be an educator or another enforcer of safety codes. Nobody should have to live with constant physical violence in their lives.

Emotional bullying, in the form of the spoken or written word, however, is quite another matter. This style of bullying is far more common than physical attacks, and it affects everyone at some time in their lives. Short of taping everybody’s mouths up in the classroom, there isn’t much you can do about someone who insists on saying hurtful things. You can punish them, certainly, but I’m sure those of you with first-hand experience of bullying know that a punishment rarely stops the bully from resuming their taunts the very next day. There is a simple, biological explanation for this inevitability:

People evolve at different rates.

Everyone on this planet is an individual. At different speeds and via different means, most of us eventually learn that our words and actions, however small, have consequences for the people around us. Bullies who use harsh words to get a rise out of you have not yet evolved to understand how much those words will hurt you. No amount of intervention or punishment can speed up the biological empathy that just doesn’t exist in their brains yet. They are not as mature as you are. They can’t see the world the way that their victims do.

You may think that this presents a fairly hopeless perspective, since there’s nothing that can really be done about the jerk who calls you names from the back of the class. This is exactly how I felt when I was a bullied child, and later, a bullied adult in my college years. During that time, however, I discovered a perspective that changed everything. In my love of literature, I began to think about villains.
A villain’s purpose in a story is not just to cause trouble. Villains are essential in literature, because they present challenges to the hero. Their unstoppably wicked ways make the hero of the tale stand up for themselves. They force that hero to become stronger, braver and less afraid in the face of terrible adversity. Heroes become who they are because of the things they have overcome in their lives. Stories need villains, for without them, there would be no heroes at all.

Preventing bullying is not always possible. The less evolved amongst us will always seek to throw hate and humiliation our way. But that doesn’t mean we have to let that hate into our lives. We can use it to better ourselves if we approach it in the right way. Villains are sent to test you, so be ready for their challenges. Smile at their stupidity. Shine above their darkness. Show them that their small role in your life is to make you stronger, and greater than them. Pity them, because one day they’ll regret who they are right now.

Every day that you can overcome what your villains throw at you, you become an ever greater hero in your life’s story. When I look back on the villains who have passed through my life, I can take pride in the fact that I got past them, and they never stopped me from believing in myself, or from achieving my dreams. Celebrate your villains today, because they are the ones who will give you a stronger tomorrow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it'd be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first three novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga, the time travel adventure The Secret Star and her new urban fantasy epic The Book Of Shade.


As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.

K.C. Finn signed with Clean Teen Publishing in late 2013. Her books The Mind's Eye and Leighton's Summer were released in early 2014.



K.C. FINN'S BOOKS:

GIVEAWAY:

Before you enter this giveaway, let's add an extra 5 entries to this Rafflecopter today for just saying something nice to someone! Easy right? All you have to do is say something nice to someone to encourage them today. It can be a compliment, a few words of appreciation or whatever you think will bring a smile to their face. While it's not a requirement, we encourage you to look for someone who may need those extra words of encouragement today. Maybe it's someone going through a tough time or someone you don't normally speak to. You can write an encouraging post on their Facebook wall, Tweet them a message, send them a text, call them or tell them in person. It's up to you. We would even dare you to take this a step forward and do this every day. Make it a habit and make a difference. 


Please remember that we will have additional entry options for this giveaway with each new blog post we send! So make sure to subscribe to follow our blog by email to maximize your chances to win some amazing prizes that include a GRAND PRIZE: $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Biggest Bully is Never One Person by Gabrielle Arrowsmith (Plus, $300 in prizes giveaway!)

The Biggest Bully is Never One Person 

(A post by Gabrielle Arrowsmith.)

When you visualize bullying in schools, what image comes to mind? Someone who bullied you, a friend, or a classmate? The big, powerful character from a film or television show who famously stole lunch money from, vandalized the lockers of, and generally pushed around the small, ‘nerdy’ students? 


Today, the faces of both the bullies and their victims have changed, as have the avenues by which bullying takes place.  All this considered, bullying has the potential to be a runaway problem. 

 
From a teacher’s standpoint, I am proud to say that school districts have made bullying a primary concern, and have developed actions plans both to prevent and address situations where the bully or bullies and the victim or victims can be identified. 


Earlier this school year, a very upset fourth grade student approached me with a bullying concern. Unfortunately, there was no isolated incident or individual bully to point out. He expressed that he has suffered bullying since starting at the elementary school, and that everyone in the grade level participates in it (or does not stand up to break the cycle). 

I asked the boy to give examples to explain his history of being bullied, so that I could better understand how to address the issue. He told me that kids grumble when he’s put into a group with them, that they call him names like weird, gross, and dumb, and that people don’t sit by him at lunch, recess, or on the bus, and in fact move away from him if he makes an effort to join his peers. 

This type of bullying breaks my heart the most, because the victim feels they have no option for friendship with their peers, and can only seek solace from adults. It is also the most difficult to stop. How do you address an entire grade level in a meaningful way? Sure, there are videos, anti-bullying assemblies, blue T-shirt day, and wristbands that raise awareness and invite students to reflect on their school environment, but do these efforts have a long-term effect? 


My opinion is that, sadly, they do not—at least, not as much as school personnel and the students who feel massively victimized would like. But, these school-wide efforts and opportunities provided for bullied students to speak to a school counselor or attend friendship club during lunch and let the student know that they have advocates in their corner. Just as important as reiterating the fact that they are not weird, gross, or dumb, is the fact that they are not forgotten, and never alone.

About Gabrielle Arrowsmith:


GABRIELLE ARROWSMITH enjoyed writing her debut novel, Concealed in the Shadows, during a lovely Minnesota summer that she had off from her primary profession, teaching. Acting, playing and coaching soccer, reading, playing piano, and spending time with family and friends are among her other interests.

GABRIELLE ARROWSMITH'S BOOKS:

 

GIVEAWAY:

Before you enter this giveaway, let's add an extra 5 entries to this Rafflecopter today for just saying something nice to someone! Easy right? All you have to do is say something nice to someone to encourage them today. It can be a compliment, a few words of appreciation or whatever you think will bring a smile to their face. While it's not a requirement, we encourage you to look for someone who may need those extra words of encouragement today. Maybe it's someone going through a tough time or someone you don't normally speak to. You can write an encouraging post on their Facebook wall, Tweet them a message, send them a text, call them or tell them in person. It's up to you. We would even dare you to take this a step forward and do this every day. Make it a habit and make a difference. 


Please remember that we will have additional entry options for this giveaway with each new blog post we send! So make sure to subscribe to follow our blog by email to maximize your chances to win some amazing prizes that include a GRAND PRIZE: $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NOW AVAILABLE: The Willful by Lauren Nicolle Taylor! Only $1.99!

NEW RELEASE: The Willful by Lauren Nicolle Taylor


ONLY $1.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME! 

When a heart is in pieces, can it still be broken? 

Quiet, contemplative Esther is in love. It’s an all-encompassing love that sweeps her off her feet but also leaves her dangling with nothing to hold onto. It’s thrilling, unlike anything she’s ever felt before, and she gives her whole heart to this marriage, to this willful, passionate man. 

Things change when she becomes a mother. It’s not just the two of them anymore, and as Esther gives a large piece of her heart to her daughter, Rosa, she starts to realize that maybe love shouldn’t be this hard. That she shouldn’t have to give up her whole self to be with him. That now that she’s a mother, she can’t. 

Set in the years leading up to The Woodlands, The Willful follows Esther, Rosa’s mother, as she navigates young motherhood, a marriage on the brink, and the hard decisions that come with living in a controlled world with an uncontrollable man.

The Woodlands Series by Lauren Nicolle Taylor





THE WOODLANDS by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing

           FREE BOOK:



Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen...

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Rosa lives in The Woodlands, one of eight enclosed cities where the lone survivors of a devastating war have been gathered. In these circular cities everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair skinned, blue eyed and the laid back, ever-grinning, complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. That was before the bitter race war decimated most of the planet, leaving the Russian wilderness as the only scrap of land habitable for survivors. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.


The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want, after all, they are considered super heroes by the general public. But not everyone see's them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.




THE WALL by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Book 2 in The Woodlands Series





Joseph, wake up, wake up, wake up.

She says it over and over. It’s her plea, her prayer, her mantra. But life doesn’t stop while he’s sleeping. Rosa’s been thrown into a new world, with new rules, and a philosophy that sounds too good to be true. She’s also sure they didn’t rescue her out of the goodness of their hearts.

The Survivors must want something from them… but what?

The Wall finds Rosa eagerly entering a new life, yet struggling to keep the demons and ghosts of the past from dragging her backwards.

She’s left so many people behind and isn’t sure how to start over.

There’s freedom in the Survivors’ world, more than she’d ever dreamed of, but there’s also secrets. The darkest of which pulls Rosa headfirst into a trauma, forcing her to reevaluate her past and pushing her to make a choice that may destroy the tenuous, sewn-together family she’s built on the outside.

Will Rosa make the right choice… or will she lose everything she has fought so hard for?





THE WOUNDED by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Book 3 in The Woodlands Series



You think you’re in control, that you have your hands on the reins. But I’m starting to think either someone else is driving or the reins are attached to nothing. Just flapping and snapping in the breeze. What could be simple, never is.

Rosa doesn’t want to get used to being separated from Joseph, from Orry. But now she must battle her way back to her family, her future, at the same time struggling to come to terms with her father’s past, his secrets and what he means to her now.

With her best friend Rash by her side she feels blessed and cursed. He is her saving grace but will Joseph accept him, and will he forgive her for leaving? More importantly will she manage to return to him? Rosa must pull these threads together. Hold herself in as she hacks her way back to The Wall with the aid of new companions but not the one person she’d planned on saving.

Finding her way back is only the beginning. The biggest changes, the shocking outcomes are waiting. Hovering over the town like a menacing vapour.

The Wounded have waited, nursed, and been dormant for too long and now they’re coming, dragging the ghosts of their lost ones behind them.





THE WANTED by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Book 4 in The Woodlands Series
October 31, 2014
PRE-ORDER AND SAVE $1 TODAY! 






What would you be willing to sacrifice to get what you Wanted? 

It’s the question facing both Rosa and Joseph as they are pushed and pulled in unimaginable directions. 

It’s the question Superior Grant answered with a resounding, “Anything and everything.” 

The only thing they want is to be back in each other’s arms. But what will it cost them to get there? 

Separated after a failed mission, they are caught in dual hells. Joseph, sinking as he struggles to face what he did to escape and who he had to leave behind. Rosa, straddling the divide between fighting the evil, calculating Superior Grant and trying her best to stay alive. 

When what they Wanted seems unreachable, can they find the strength—the will—to keep trying? To keep fighting? And find their way back to each other and to Orry?

The Wanted is the stunning conclusion of The Woodlands Series. 



About Lauren Nicolle Taylor


Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013 and followed shortly by The Wall and The Wounded. The Wanted—the stunning conclusion to the series— is scheduled for release in October of 2014. 


Where to find Lauren: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

More from Clean Teen Publishing:




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Tale of a Sixth Grade Nothing. (An honest post from June Stevens.)

The Tale of a Sixth Grade Nothing

Picture from http://hellogiggles.com/bullying-sucks 
(An honest post about bullying from author June Stevens.)
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to write this post for weeks. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness month, and I think that is great. However when asked to actually talk about bullying, I get physically ill. It’s strange. I’m a fat chick that talks out about size acceptance all of the time. I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence in the past and advocate whenever I can. But when it comes down to talking about childhood bullying my stomach cramps and I just want to curl up in a little ball. I’m forty years old, but it seems that certain childhood traumas never go away. 

My experience with bullying wasn’t the occasional experience with the big, bad school bully that many are unfortunate to encounter. Every school has that one kid. You know the one. The one that every person in school picks on, even if you don’t know the kid. If you are a kind, good kid, you don’t pick on them, but you do ignore them, just out of shear self-preservation. If you don’t, their fate will become your own. 

For more than a year I was that kid. 

It happened in the first couple of months of fifth grade. My family moved around a lot, so I was new to the school at the beginning of the school year, yet somehow I lucked into the “cool” crowd. The fifth grade Queen Bee and her drones were in my class and for a couple of glorious weeks I was a proud drone. Then one day it happened. I ticked off the Queen Bee. 

I was a shy, quiet kid (though no one who knows me now would know it) that spent most of her time reading, always did her homework, and above all else, obeyed rules. I didn’t have the greatest home life and I’d learned the best way to stay out of trouble was not to be noticed and follow rules. 

One morning while sitting in the gym and waiting for school to start the Queen Bee asked me to copy my homework from the night before. I was torn between wanting to be liked and not wanting to break the rules. The part of me that was too afraid of getting caught won the battle and I told her no. It seems no one ever told her no. She stood up and screamed “You are a nasty little booger.” 

That one little sentence was the beginning of a life of torment. That became my name. “Booger.” I was teased and tormented and my tiny circle of friends dwindled to zero. I was granted a merciful reprieve when, just a couple of months into the school year we moved again. We only moved a few miles away, but it was into a different district and I moved schools. At that school I made friends, but the damage had been done and I had to go to counseling every week. 

Unfortunately the next year was the beginning of Junior High. All of the elementary schools in the area fed into one Junior High and it only took a few weeks for the kids from my old elementary school to recognize me and start up the name calling again. I was a poor kid and my mom only bought me boy jeans and my shoes were worn out. I was also a “fast developer” so I looked more like a fifteen or sixteen year old girl than the 11-12 year old girls in my class. All of these things added fuel to the bully fire. I was teased, hit, kicked, spit on, slapped, pinched, tripped, had nasty notes taped to my back, and threatened. I was called ugly, nasty, slut, tramp, b***h, booger (that was the main one), and so many other horrible things that I wouldn’t dare repeat. 

I got zero help from teachers. As a matter of fact, any time there was an altercation that was seen by teachers I was the one sent to the principal’s office. I repeatedly got detention for causing disturbances and when things got so bad that I couldn’t go in the lunch room without getting food dumped on me I was punished by being made to spend lunch hours in the office. To avoid that, I started spending lunch in the library and often went without eating. 

I didn’t get any support at home. Yes, my mom went to the school a couple of times, but only to protest my detentions. She worked and couldn’t come get me after school if I missed the bus. Eventually she just started making me walk the three miles home. At home I got in trouble for not taking up for myself and if I was hit at school and didn’t hit back, I got hit at home. So, I stopped telling anyone. I retreated into myself and reading. 

The ultimate insult came about six weeks before the end of the year when someone broke into my locker and stole all of my books and threw them into a pond behind the school. I had a lock on my locker but it would not have been hard for someone to stand over my shoulder and see the combination. The halls were crowded and I had a lower level locker. The school refused to replace the books. They said it was my fault. My mom refused to pay for them, finally standing up for me to the principal and saying it was the school’s fault for allowing the bullying to go on all year. Though a few teachers took pity on me and let me use their spare books in the classroom, most did not and I had to take zeros on almost all of my school work. At the end of the year I’d failed the last grading period. I’d had pretty good grades and could have passed the year (barely) but the school would not pass me to the next grade until the books were paid for. I failed the sixth grade. 

There was more in my life that year than being bullied. It was the year we started learning about poetry and doing a lot of creative writing in language arts class. I became consumed with writing. I read over two hundred books that year and got a certificate from the librarian. I was in Young Astronauts and wanted to be an astronomer. I won first place in a kite making contest in Young Astronauts, I had two baby teeth pulled, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded the day before my twelfth birthday, we did a gymnastics rotation in gym class and I loved the balance beam so much I had my dad build me one out of some old planks and sawhorses we had at home. I lived, I survived, and eventually I even started thriving again. 

The next year my mom sent me off to live with my grandmother several hours away. That year I was one of the most popular girls in school. When, by the third week of school, I was acing every test, my teachers went to the principal and had me take a test to test out of the sixth grade. I did, and passed with flying colors. So the principal called my Grandmother in and they gave me the choice of going forward to seventh grade (which at that school meant moving to another school), or staying and going through sixth grade a second time. I had so many friends in just a few weeks of school and was even a candidate for student council. Knowing how hard the last year had been for me, my grandmother left the choice up to me. In hindsight, going forward to seventh grade might have been better academically, but I chose to stay with the friends I had rather than move to yet another new school and risk being the outcast again. While there are always hardships and drama in 12 year old lives, it was an easy year both academically and emotionally. I even had my first (and fourth) boyfriend that year, went to my first boy/girl party, and got my first kiss (a quick peck that barely landed on my lips). I had a normal year. For once, I was a normal kid. 

After that year I went back to live with my parents and while I had lots of ups and downs, I was never that picked on kid again. I eventually found my voice and took up for myself and others, but it took a while. 

I have never shared my sixth grade experiences publicly. As a matter of fact I have only ever told them to a very few very close friends. I’m sharing it now in hopes that it can show that there IS life after being bullied. I wish I could say that effects of being bullied are temporary, but the truth is that even now I’m a little afraid about putting my story out there. There is a tiny bit of that twelve year old left inside that is afraid that if people know what happened, it will start up all over again. But I have people that love me and I know that whatever happens, they will always stand by me. 

There isn’t a lot of advice I can offer, except that there is always hope. For me there weren’t any adults that really listened, but that was a very long time ago. Bullying is seen differently now. If the adults you go to don’t listen, go to someone else. Never stop trying. Don’t hide, don’t retreat into yourself, and keep telling adults what is happening until someone listens. 

The most important thing I can tell you is that you are not the words other people use to speak to you. You cannot be summed up by someone else’s ignorance or hate. Their words have nothing to do with you. You are, no matter who you are, beautiful, unique, and special. You are your hopes and your dreams, so never give up hope and never stop dreaming.

Picture from http://staystrongyall.blogspot.com

ABOUT JUNE STEVENS:



June Stevens is the pen name of DJ Westerfield.

DJ uses the pseudonym June Stevens to write ROMANTIC fiction in a variety of genres including contemporary, suspense, fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy.

DJ is a wife, step-mom, sister, auntie, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, and Mommy to four adorable and mischievous four-legged babies. She writes non-fiction, blogs, and co-hosts an internet radio show as DJ Westerfield. 

Voodoo Moon by June Stevens, is scheduled to be released by Crimson Tree Publishing in early 2015.


JUNE STEVENS BOOKS:


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