Battle Plan for Bullying

Bullying will always be a part of our lives and will probably never go away completely. There will always be people who will try to exert power over others. Unless something is done about it, that’s when we have problems. Bullies can be put in their place, and sometimes it takes more than one to speak up.

One of the biggest problems that we have in the US today is that bullies have no accountability for their actions and a lot of people, fellow kids and grownups, do nothing about it. Our government has handicapped a lot of the old ways of dealing with the problem with laws–the bullies are protected and the victims are exposed and vulnerable if the victim and/or their parents can’t handle it. That is not to say bullying didn’t happen still in the old days, but bullies were less likely to get away with it when they got busted, and an adult dealt with it in an effective manner.

In my elementary school years and back when my parents and grandparents were in school, if a bully got busted, they went to the principal’s or teacher’s office and got a paddling. Then that teacher or principal would call the kid’s parents where they got a spanking at home. Even the meanest kids didn’t want that call home. I have some real pistols in my family and extended family, but they still didn’t want that call home–they tell me this even as middle aged adults looking back. Nowadays though, we don’t have that luxury. Nothing gets done. No accountability.

This post is not about getting on the soapbox about getting paddling back in schools–that’s not the silver bullet. I was still tormented and terrorized with paddling in school, so there’s your proof that it isn’t a cure-all. Bubba was a lot more careful about what he did, and he didn’t antagonize the teacher and/or the principal when that was around. There are other things that can be done to deal with the problem in a constructive manner. Sometimes Bubba and Betty both would get a paddling–not that it happened to me, but it happened nonetheless.

After some thought and analysis over the years I have noticed what the weakness of bullying is, but it is not normally exploited. If it was, it wouldn’t be a problem. It takes more than one to exert their firepower on its Achilles’ heel. One person’s arrow isn’t going to do it. Dictators are not overthrown by one person armies in the real world–that only happens in movies and books. Things can get started by one person, but they can’t be finished. Since I had the mind of a Spartan warrior in this case and I write stories about warriors, battle strategy seems like a fitting analogy for this post.

The Anatomy of a Bully

Bullies are sometimes hurt kids themselves, but for whatever reason they direct their anger an pain at others. Others just have that dominant personality. Or, they could just be a future dictator in the making; he just doesn’t need to be elected President. Bullies can be jealous of other kids and attack them. 98% of the time though, bullies don’t attack their target one on one.

The Posse: Bullies usually attack in groups or three or more. As I said in an earlier post, they attack like packs of velociraptors. Bullies seem to get their strength in numbers. It’s easy to be big and bad when it’s odds of 5:1! Needless to say if it comes to a fight, bullies don’t fight fair. It doesn’t even have to be a fist fight for it to happen that way. There won’t be a 1:1 fight.  If the chief bully goes down, that’s when the posse steps in, and then it’s game over for the target.

Love of Spectator Sports: This is when the bully causes a scene to draw in spectators. The spectators stand around and watch the 5:1 battle. They seem to form a circle around the contenders. It’s like being transported back into ancient Rome into the Colosseum. The more people are there the more Bubba gets strength to torment the victim.

Note to spectators: You don’t have to do anything to the victim to make them feel like you are against them. Standing around and doing nothing makes them feel like you are against them just the same. Doing nothing seems like you are condoning what is happening, and you are just as involved in it. Instead of the odds of 5:1; the odds are 50:1 in the eyes of the victim. I’ve been here. That’s why victims can feel like everybody hates them, and they aren’t worth anyone’s time to have a helping hand. Sometimes after Bubba and his posse get through, some of the spectators continue the torment afterward. This is kicking someone while they’re down. Shame on you! This is where the isolation and loneliness comes from. Being bullied by itself is tough enough, but factor this in…

On the subject of the spectator role–I never understood it. For the person who wanted to say something but didn’t–why? Kudos to those that did. They are the examples of what is coming up next. I would have said something on someone’s behalf if I was on this side of the field. In a bullying scenario I was always on the field fighting Bubba and his posse.

Bubba’s Achilles’ Heel

Bubba’s love of spectator sports and strength in numbers is his strength and his weakness at the same time. Everything all depends on what the spectators do and what grownups do. When another kid stand up to the bully on the victim’s behalf, he looses some power. If it’s just him and his posse, the odds aren’t so great for the bully posse like it is with spectators. This is usually when Bubba will tuck his tail and run.  He’ll try to isolate Betty again later on. If it’s 1:1 and another kids steps in to contend Bubba, he gets out of Dodge like a scalded dog. He may threaten the other kid, too, but it is mostly an act of desperation to reinstate power.

Now, if more and more people took up for Betty and stood up to Bubba he would loose even more power. If he had also bullied other people then they should all stand together to overthrow the tyrant. However, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t understand that. I can’t wrap my head around it. It defies every logical neuron in my body!

Just as Bubba draws power from a crowd, so can the victims; it’s just that most of the time the victims are isolated and alone like no one cares about them. That is one of the cruxes of the problem. This is why people become hermits and kill themselves. This is where the perception that “no one likes me and everybody hates me” comes from.

Now back to the kids who have interceded. Victims usually appreciate the helping hand–everyone needs help now and then even if we are holding our own OK–it does feel better to not stand alone all the time–even for the strongest ones. We sometimes reach out to them and hope to befriend them. The pity is that there isn’t more of those kids. I have talked to a couple people about this bullying series. Kids who intercede are perceived as heroes by the victims and by adults, and maybe by spectators. We need more kids like that. The more kids we have like that the better. Adults can’t do much to help the kids nowadays, and some do nothing, so it is left up to the kids to make a difference. Some kids don’t care if they get in trouble for helping another kid. Sometimes when adults realize that Jim was beating up Bubba to help out Betty, Jim may get off the hook for his act of charity.

To add there is no neutral territory here. Whether you realize it or not you have chosen a side in both Betty and Bubba’s perspective.

The more and more people who stand against the bully and his posse the better. He has just lost his control over the masses. This is when dictators vacate the premises and hole up in a bunker somewhere. Five people can’t take on and torment fifty people. Also, note people defending themselves are usually fiercer fighters than those who are the aggressors. There is just something amazing about that survival instinct. Even the fiercest great white shark won’t stick around to take a chunk out of an entire pod of dolphins!

Support Groups

This can be done by kids and grown ups. Kids can form groups who have all been bullied by Bubba and work together. We don’t need to work with shrinks and such unless we have suffered extreme trauma and PTSD. Adults need to do more to help the victims in some way and not leave it up the victim’s parents alone. There are things that can be done. There are ways to handle Bubba too, but discipline in today’s schools isn’t nothing but a slap on the wrist in most cases. “Oooh, ISS, big deal. Saturday school makes me shake in my boots,” Bubba would say in utter sarcasm. “Betty’s gonna get it when I get out!” Sometimes Bubba’s parents contribute to the problem by antagonizing the teacher, hopping on the bandwagon, or condoning his behavior by doing nothing or denying the problem. Maybe the parents of all of Bubba’s victims could form a group.

Anyway this point being is that when people band and work together is when change can happen. This is when tyrants fall is when the tyrannized and tormented come together and work as one–not against each other and divided. Remember: what is killing the victims is being alone, isolated, and unassisted when things get too hot to handle, but victims can’t become needy and wished to have their hand held. They still need to be able to hold their own, but they can’t fight all wars as a one person army and not expect to receive some war wounds.

Forming a support group and such also stems from a perception of bullying and how it compares with domestic violence, child abuse, and harassment. That’s next week!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Adults Fail the Bullied

As a continuation of the bullying series and from last post, I promised to share how adults fail to address the problem. Some of the problems existed 20+ years ago, but there are some new problems to add to the old ones.

Recap: The reason why I am writing about bullying is that it was just ONE (probably the only negative) of the driving forces that drove me to become a novelist at such a young age and possibly why my MC is as strong as she is.

There are several actions that adults do that seem to let us, the victims, down. I think the core of the actions are  centered around one idea: they don’t want to deal with the problem.

Everyone knows of the “tattletale kids”; the ones who tell on everybody for every little thing. Are they the ones who ruin it for the rest of us? Most of the bullied don’t want to be called a tattletale on top of the list of other things we get called.

There are times it gets too hot to handle on our own and we need intercession from a grown up so we can have peace. There is a need to tell someone since the problem is out of hand. Sometimes we get what we want or it gets worse, and it all depends on what the grownups do. Here are the scenarios that commonly arise that usually leads to worse circumstances for the victims.

The Brotherly Speech: This is when the teacher/principal gets up in front of the class and give a lecture about “why can’t we just all get along?” This is usually after a kid or two tells on the bully. In a way it reeks of “I don’t want to deal with the problem so just leave me alone!” We are not all getting along because Bubba and his posse is making it hard on everyone since they pick on everyone and cause dissension. I heard this a lot when I was in school. If I heard just one more time, I was gonna scream.

The Trial: This is when the teacher or principal will call upon the victim(s) and the bully(s) to testify against each other. Most of the time we (the victims) want to remain anonymous because we KNOW Bubba and his posse will hold a grudge against us and up the ante later. It happens almost every time. After the trial we have a target on our backs. As soon as Bubba and his posse get out of detention or ISS, it’s punishing time since they know who narked on them!

Punish them All: Another common item. The bully and the victims are all put into detention or ISS together like a jailbird family. We get punished by the grownups for trying to defend ourselves and we and Bubba all get caught, and then we’ll get punished by Bubba after we serve time with him because we got him in trouble. This is usually the case when the victim fights back or we have someone interceding or both. Almost as bad as public narking but worse in that the defense leads to trouble.

Bubba’s off the Hook: This didn’t happen so much to me, but for it to exist on TV programs, skits, and stories, it must happen. This is a schema for bullying in entertainment, and the victims are trying to expose Bubba for  what he is so he can get busted by the teacher. This is when the vic fights back and they get caught. Bubba is not in trouble and is the sweet little angel that put his horns in his pocket or something. As soon as the teacher or principal leave, the halo’s  back off and the horns are back in place. Bubba also seems to have this to a science. He quits just before the teacher or principal ’rounds the corner. He seems to also be able to lie and get out of trouble while the victim tells the truth and gets IN trouble.

Denial: This crime is mostly committed by Bubba’s parents sometimes a teacher if Bubba is this teacher’s pet. This is when Bubba can do no wrong. I know parents want to think the best of their kids, but let’s be objective here. If I had a kid (which I don’t) I would like to know if he/she was bullying another kid. It would NOT be tolerated at all and they would be punished. This existed 20+ years ago but nowadays it is more prevalent.

The Blame Game: Every crime ever committed under the sun has this schema. It’s the victim’s fault. Bubba can’t do no wrong, so Betty had to have done something to make Bubba do that. Yeah, like what–exist? Taking this a step further, quite a few parents of bullies seem to blame the teacher for giving Bubba ISS for stuffing Betty in a locker and locking her inside with a padlock (made up story). If Betty wasn’t so nerdy, then maybe Bubba wouldn’t have done it. Ticks me off and makes me sick…

Hopping on the Bandwagon: This is the #1 worst of the lot. This is when the grownups decide to bully the kid too. There are more instances of this now than there was when I was in school. I had been bullied by an adult; it wasn’t a teacher, but an adult nonetheless. This adult was my bus driver and a bully parent. The parents of bullies also bully (sometimes). Now the teachers are getting in on it. Teachers should be fired for bullying kids. Why this even happening is beyond my comprehension. Teachers and faculty who engage in this type of behavior should be ashamed of themselves. What a way to set examples for the next generation. Freaks me out… :O

There is a young girl that I know who liked her own style of clothing. Her mother had to change her style and buy new clothes because the teachers and the kids made fun of her. I was as  hot as the tenth level of hell when I heard that story!

Do Nothing: This is the opposite end of the spectrum of “Hopping on the Bandwagon”, but it’s still bad. There is a lot of this going on so that is another reason why bullying is worse than ever. Parents, teachers, etc are not doing anything. It makes me want to bash my head against a wall. In some ways the government has made this happen when no one can do much to the kids or their parents. In my day in school (in elementary school) and before they used to paddle kids in school and they would get a whoopin’ when they got home. Sometimes bullying happens off of  school grounds, so nothing is done unless the victim’s parent press charges.

On a local news station here in GA there was a story about a girl who was a victim of cyber bullying. The bullies put up a Facebook page about the victim. The girl’s parents contacted the school, Facebook, etc trying to get the page taken down. The school, Facebook, or the bully parents did nothing, and some of it was due to political correctness. Long story short, the page wasn’t taken down until the girl’s parents had to press charges and sue the bullies and their parents to remove the page and for the harm it caused. Is that what we have to do now? Sue people? Charge them with assault? Really?

Screw political correctness–people are dying and getting hurt! This is why the government shouldn’t be involved. It would just complicate things that much more. Look at the Trial issue  above. How much worse could it get if we have to do the same thing in legal court? Would the victim need victim protection after Bubba gets out of the Big House? It’s a bigger issue than with testifying in the principal’s office and ISS and Saturday School is the sentence.

There’s more constructive means to handle this. That’s the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bullying Kills: Another Child Dead

A few days after writing last week’s post about my own bullying story, this article  from the Huffington Post pops up. This article is about another tragic death caused by bullying. Joel Morales is  only 12 years old before he tragically took his own life. Another young life ended that made headlines. What makes this bullying story the most egregious is that the bullies tormented this kid about his father dying. Really?! Nothing seems to be off limits to the likes of bullies. UGH!

Reading this story made me very angry. So, instead of just one post about my bullying story we’re going to have a series. So, some of the Backwood humor and book fun may be on hold for a little while or I may post on an odd day until I do this poignant series.

I have thought of some strong feelings and analogies to post later on. I can’t be silent any longer about this issue. Something has got to be said. Somebody’s gotta speak up. It’s time for the isolation and loneliness for for bullying victims to be understood because I was one. How many more kids are gonna die before someone says something or does something about it? No, Mr. President, we don’t need bigger government to intercede in our schools and workplaces. We need a means to take action and people with backbones, but that’s another post.

Dealing with the death of a parent is tough enough on its own. Dealing with bullying is tough enough, but putting them together is too much for any 12 year old. Why is someone’s parent dying something that’s funny and somehow a joking matter? The kid needed support by his peers not mockery. I may not have dealt with a death of a parent, but I have dealt with the deaths of loved ones. I have also dealt with a suicide of an aunt and that can feel surreal. Now, it’s not said how Joel’s father died, but I can relate to Joel’s  mother to somewhat of an extent, but not completely.

Patterns from My Life and His

From this article I was able to see parallels from other aspects of bullying that I didn’t share in the last post.  My father wasn’t dead, but he was gone at work most of the time. There’s the only difference.

  • They’re Everywhere: In this article young Joel seemed to never escape the bullying no matter where he went. The taunt seemed to spread to each and every new place like a disease. It seemed like all the bullies in the world were telepathically linked. Nowadays that’s due to social media, but when I was 12 it seemed like a freak of nature. They seem like gremlins; throw water on them and they multiply.
  • The Lying in Wait: This is the biggie similarity in our lives. We seem to try to avoid the bullies in any way we can, but we can’t. They follow us. They stalk us. We try to leave last, and they stay and wait for us. They hunt us down so they can abuse us some more. They head us off at the next corner. It’s just like it will never end–there is no escape.
  • Alone: It seems like no one will help me. They’re all against me. Everybody hates me. Nobody understands me.  Nobody cares about my pain. Why do they torment me? I’m just a normal kid, so why can’t I fit in? These are thought and questions of an isolated person. When the battle becomes to fierce too fight on your own; you want someone to help you–anyone, but they rarely come or not at all.
  • Adults Seem to Fail Us: I will probably have a separate post about this. Aside from some parents, adults don’t really do anything to stop the bullying or don’t handle it effectively. Very few actually get anywhere  at all. If there is any relief it’s usually short lived, and once the bullying starts back, it’s worse than ever before. Some adults seem like they don’t want to deal with the problem at all. Joel’s mother tried her very best to remove him, but she couldn’t since the bullies were like a pack of velociraptors on the hunt. When Joel killed himself, she felt like she failed him and in essence she nearly took her own life. An entire family nearly wiped out. Parents can’t be there 24/7 and they seem to blame themselves for the bullying and/or the outcome thereof. When I talk about my bullying trials, my parents feel responsible, but there wasn’t much else they could have possibly done. There is no intercession on our, the victims, and our parents’ behalf. That is one of the main problems of why bullying is such a rampant problem. Of course, there are some adults that participate in the bullying of a child which is totally unacceptable.

How Bullies Hunt for Us

There were times if I wondered if my life and death analogy about bullying was a bit to extreme or exaggerated  in the past. Now, after reading stories like these, no it isn’t. Some bullies probably actually commit murder. Others kill us with their words to inflict psychological and emotional wounds.  Some beat us physically, and others do both. “Sticks and stones…,” is so untrue and a load of malarkey. The person who came up with that rhyme probably wasn’t bullied. If anyone has ever suffered emotional or psychological trauma, they can verify that it takes longer and more therapy to heal than any physical trauma.

A lot of times people just shrug and say “that’s just harmless fun,” or “they’re just being kids”. Harmless fun doesn’t cause kids to contemplate taking their own life or causes social or emotional problems for the victims. Harmless fun doesn’t turn people into hermits. Before these stories ever came about how many kids killed themselves back in my day because of bullying? My parents’? My grandparents’? Is there a way to know since the news traveled slower? There is a line between fun and abuse. I know where that line is. Ragging someone about their dead parent or calling them stupid and ugly when they are not until they isolate themselves or kill themselves is not ‘harmless fun’. The line has been crossed.

Just because someone doesn’t  like themselves, or they’re mad at the world doesn’t give them the right to make everyone else or a person their personal punching bag or scapegoat.

In closing, if I had dealt with the exact same thing that poor Joel did, would I have duplicated his fate? I would say no. I have a stronger will to survive, but I would have probably become a complete hermit and a very angry child. I wouldn’t be back to school. I would have refused to go back; I would probably skip; I would have walked home from school to avoid the bullying. I probably would have made my parents homeschool me for the rest of my career.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Silent Lone Warrior: My Tale of Bullying

About two weeks ago at the time of this writing I ran across this article in the Huffington Post about Lynda Fredrick and her story of bullying. This tugged at my heartstrings because I, too, am a victim of bullying. From preschool all the way to my second job in the workplace I dealt with the issue. Even though I didn’t deal with some of the domestic issues like Fredrick (according what I draw from the poem) did, but I dealt with the bullying at school and the workplace just the same.

Bullying is a problem and it’s not a new one. It is making headlines since kids and teenagers are killing themselves or each other because of it. I know firsthand what it feels like. At least when I was growing up cyber bullying didn’t exist, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. The loneliness brought by bullying can fell crushing. It can feel like an anaconda wrapped around your chest, and it will crush you if you let it.

Fredrick may be just a couple years older than I am, but it is in about the same time I was in school. As far as similarities the home life go, my parents were poor, but I was fortunate enough to have a few new clothes and parents who took the time to bathe me until I was old enough to do it myself. I had a loving family. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t.

The armored knights and Spartan hoplites are  metaphors of how I view myself and how I dealt with my own bullying problems. I had to fight, defend, and train. I had to view these personal attacks like real attacks and that I was in a war to stay alive or die. Only the strong will survive. You must fight or die. Fight back or be crushed.

Preschool: Where It All Began

This was always me. Me in the beginning.

Unlike Fredrick, she doesn’t mention being a victim in preschool, this is probably  my first intro to other kids besides one neighbor’s kid that I played with occasionally, and he was older than I was. Most of the time I played by myself since I was only child–I lived in isolation because no one in the community reached out to my parents other than family and the one neighbor. Since I wasn’t around people very much, I didn’t know how to approach people; I was shy and silent. Silence was my first language toward strangers. I was in introverted child, so this was natural, too.

When people came around, they didn’t ask if I would like to play with them. Instead, they would either call  me names or take toys away from me. I didn’t know how to deal with that. My mom had to teach me to stand up for myself. This was my first encounter with other people my age,  and they were rather unpleasant.

Also, at this particular preschool, the owner was very strict. She had a rule about mixing Play Doh among other things. I wanted to make something for my mom since she worked at the preschool. I was a creative child. I didn’t mix the colors, I just put different colors  on a color like a collage and tried to make sure I didn’t press too hard so they didn’t mix. The lady found out about it. She spanked me (back when public spanking was allowed) and made me sit out of recess for the entire day. The only thing I thought about was how I didn’t like the lady and didn’t want to come back here rather than what I had done. I felt like I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t break something or get into a fight with another kid. I didn’t mix the colors together.

Elementary School and The Bus Until the Beginning of 5th Grade

I am now introduced to kindergarten, and this time my mother didn’t work here. Since this was a small town and all the schools were close together, the elementary, middle, and high schoolers rode the same bus. This became a nightmare. The trials and tribulations from  preschool also happen here and are more severe. The high school and middle school kids would torment the elementary school kids. I was one of the targets when I was as  young as kindergarten.

Please make it stop!

For me in kindergarten and first grade, those were the hardest times since I had to learn to combat these older kids along with relearning self defense. What made things worse was that I was picked on on the playground by peers after the morning bus hounding by the big kids and peers. I would get it in the afternoons, too. When I wasn’t being picked on, nobody wanted to play with me most of the time–only occasionally. Whenever I was invited in, the kids didn’t play fair with me. I didn’t really have fun like the other kids I observed as I wandered the playground alone. I felt like I was better off playing by myself. I watched people most of the time as I swung alone or whatever I felt like doing.

There were times I dealt with extreme loneliness; I had use my brilliant mind to create my own friends since I didn’t really have friends. Animals were the only friends I could see and touch, and they loved me unconditionally and didn’t judge me.  I also  created a world where I mattered, and I could leave my problems behind until I had to return to the bus and school tomorrow. The animals would follow along too. When an animal died, it was like my best friend had died. In fact, this is how it was. The deaths of animals were very hard for me since that’s how I felt. I felt the sting of loneliness again until I got another animal.

I also wanted mom and dad to have another baby so I could have somebody to play with. I didn’t have issues with sharing mom and dad. The loneliness was overwhelming and sometimes too much to bear. Very few times did I go to the woods alone and just cry. As I grew older though I stopped crying. Only wimps and babies cry became my motto when I felt the urge to cry. Suck it up or die because no one will give you a break even if you are wounded and bleeding.

I occasionally did try to reach out to other people only to be shrugged off or hurt. Anything I said or did brought torment. Sometimes the loneliness felt better than all the attacks. I became fluent in the language of silence. When I was silent, my tormentors didn’t have any ammo to aim back at me. I felt  like I was constantly under attack. Almost daily. A good day was when I was left alone. I felt I was having to constantly defend, defend, defend. I began to not share anything with anyone since that also brought pain.

A girl pretended to be my friend and humiliated me in front of everyone on the bus. She deliberately wanted to hurt me. I don’t know why, and what did I ever do to her? Nothing. After that, I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen again. That is where my trust issues began. I had a very hard time trusting anyone after that. I kept everyone at arm’s length. They only seemed to want to get close to me so they could find some other gossip fodder. This happened to me when I was only in 2nd or 3rd grade, and the bully was a middle schooler. I wanted to beat her up, and I don’t know what held me back because I was blinded by rage after the shock and humiliation passed over.

What I Became

So then I began to close myself off from others even more. I gave them the silent treatment most of the time. During this time I began to armor myself and plan defense strategies. No one stood up on my behalf. I was on my own. A lone warrior. All the painful lessons I have learned thus far was like emotional Spartan training. By the time I was in second and third grade I was taking on middle school and high school students. If the silent treatment didn’t work, I would unload some of my bottled up rage on them since it would come out after the fuse was lit. The attacks began to cause me great anger instead of pain after I had armored myself. Then I just wanted to be left alone if no one wanted to be my friend. Nothing ever got physical, but there were times I was ready for a physical battle if it ever came. Sometimes it was too close for comfort.

Later, the elderly gentleman retired, and we got a new bus driver. This woman was the mother of one of the most egregious bullies. One day, I was in active combat with her son because he started something with me, and she got onto me. I think I even ended up in the principal’s office for it. I was never there to the inner sanctum of the principals office before since I was one of the ‘good’ kids who hardly ever or never got in trouble. I wasn’t a regular visitor. I didn’t understand why I was here. I didn’t hit him even though I would have liked to. She tried to find every excuse she could to throw me off the bus after that. She threw me off one other time because I would moo at cows we  passed by during the bus ride. I thought if I can’t talk to people then I would talk to the cows. They paid more attention to me more than people did. They at least looked at me when I talked to them without insulting me. She kicked me off for mooing at cows.

She threw me off the bus for mooing at cows? I DIDN’T THROW ANYTHING AT THE COWS! I think she had it in for me. After my sentence for not riding the bus was over, I begged my mother to not put me back on the bus. Sometimes she had to since she had to work. I just didn’t say anything or do anything at all to give her a reason to kick me off again. This was one of the few times I was bullied by a grownup. A grownup picking or a 3rd grader? Seriously? I tried my defense at the principals office since she actually fabricated the report a little. Of course, the principal would believe the grown-up over the 3rd grader. Naturally. Kids never tell the truth.

There were times I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to ride the bus. I didn’t want to be around people. People suck. I actually began to become  afraid of people since all they do is hurt me–I actually began to dislike them quite a bit. I wanted to avoid them. I wished I could be invisible so I could go to school and learn and no one would harass me. Learning was the only thing I found redeeming about school since I had a brilliant mind that craved knowledge.

I had even grim thoughts during this time. A young girl had gotten killed by getting ran over riding her bike on a dirt road. A moonwalk was erected in her honor. I thought if I died tomorrow no one would care other than my family. There would be no new piece of equipment on the playground if I got ran over on Highway 145 or if I drowned in the Broad River or if I had died from a cottonmouth bite. We lived near the river and it was full of cottonmouths, but I swam and fished here nonetheless. Frankly, the whole school would celebrate  my demise with cake and confetti. I never thought of ending my life. I did, however,  want to disappear. They’d never miss me anyway. I was more scared of people than the cottonmouths.

The Later Part of 5th Grade Till the Beginning of 8th Grade

The Time of Lesser Battles

The later part if 5th grade we moved from this little town across the state to Rome. This was very hard for me. I liked the land we lived on where my imaginary world  was, and I was terrified that I was now going to have to start over with new people. How hostile were they going to be? I wasn’t going to know ‘friend’ (I had no concept was a real friend was since I didn’t have one) from foe.

It took months until I was finally able to find a friend. A real friend. While we stayed here in Rome, I had a real human friend–at last. In 7th and 8th grades I was seperated from her during the day because the school separated the grades into teams. So during the day I was back to being alone again and sometimes picked on. I just had to hang with her on weekends or call her on the phone during the week after an afternoon of adventures.

For the most part this place wasn’t so bad, but I still had issues here like on the bus and sometimes at school. The bus driver was nice and didn’t do anything mean to me like the other woman did.

The Remaining of 8th Grade and Beyond

Prepared for Harder Battle

This is when we moved to the suburbs. These where the worst and hardest years of my bullying saga. It first started when I had to leave my friend behind from the move. It took so long to find her so now I was going to have to start all over again. Now this place was a whole new meaning of the word hostile. I didn’t ride the bus here long. I got my mother to take me to school until I learned how to drive. People I didn’t even know or just met were attacking me. Bullying was almost ‘normal’ for me since I’ve dealt with it practically my whole life. Emotionally, I had become a Spartan like I said earlier. I felt like I had gone through the brutal training regimen that Spartans went through physically, but in my case, emotionally. It didn’t take me very long to feel the hostility and figure out that this was going to be a long, hard, and lonely road–I prepared for it even though I didn’t look forward to it. They said things much worse than ‘you’re stupid’, ‘you’re weird’, and ‘you’re ugly’. Girls hated me and boys picked on me. Some would ask to go with me (8th grade version of ‘date in the ’90s), but I would push back with my shield. It was just another insult. They didn’t really want that especially when they verbally assaulted me a day or two earlier. When they didn’t get their way they assaulted me again, but I had my spear at the ready. I knew their true colors would show.

I knew I had to forge my armor into something harder to survive here. I had to armor every inch of my body. My Spartan armor wasn’t good here. I had to upgrade to titanium full plate mail for my body and legs (such armor didn’t really exist). My Spartan shield and Corinthian helmet were good, but they need to be titanium instead of bronze.

No one was going to hurt me. I’m not letting anyone in unless they are the least bit friendly, but I can’t trust them completely. There is that chance they will betray me. When they did, I shut them out, and they didn’t get too close to me again.

The entire time I was at school from 8th to my graduation day the arrows and stones rained upon me, but now they just bounced off my tough armor. I lost my capacity to feel pain or really feel anything. When someone attacked, I attacked back viciously. A couple  times someone was able to find a weak spot. After throwing them off, I would bandage the wound, patch my armor back stronger than it was, and they wouldn’t get so close again. That part of my being wouldn’t be hurt again. I didn’t show pain even if it hurt. If they see pain, they’ll know you’re weak.

I don’t think you want to attack me!

Very seldom would someone stick up on my behalf. Sometimes it felt  nice to be able to  lower the shield and spear for a second. If someone approached it would go up, and I would ask in body language, “What are your intentions?” I didn’t actively engage people.  I only came when I was invited, but I knew I couldn’t get too comfortable. I may not exist tomorrow to this person. If there was a group sitting somewhere I didn’t sit with them unless I was invited since I have been turned away before. I found a place that was off to itself and sat by myself in silence.  I spoke only when spoken to. I didn’t share anything about myself or else pay the consequences. I knew not to touch that red-hot eye ever again. I guarded my most intimate secrets  like a rattlesnake–I began to rattle when they were getting too close, and if they didn’t leave me alone they get bitten. My treasures only were worth anything to me, not to anyone else. I knew they would just step on them like they were trash since that’s what my treasures were to them. No one would ever rip out my heart and step on it. Sometimes people would press me for my treasures and I would push them back harder than they pushed me. I knew their intentions were hurtful since I had watched them from the shadows. Shield front and center.

I didn’t find a true friend here. I didn’t date. I never went to a dance or to the prom. No one was really interested in me in either case. If anyone asked me out they were only desperate or wanted something from me, and I knew that. I only wanted someone who was truthfully interested and like me for me–such a person didn’t exist. There were a couple times I nearly went on a casual date, but I had my heart shielded, but the boys played games. We didn’t even get to the asking part before pulling a trick. I sort of expected it. It didn’t hurt me. There was no second chance. I knew they weren’t genuinely interested anyway. Why would they even come back?

Some girls tried to get me to ask boys out. “I don’t do that,” I would say. The whole idea was madness to me. A sign of desperation and weakness. I was neither of those. I would probably look the fool. Nobody wants to date me anyway so why should  I care? Why would I put myself before the firing squad? It made as much sense as putting my head underwater and taking a deep breath.

Loneliness has become my life

As with any lone warrior, I was very lonely. And, just like any lone warrior, you crave human interaction, but it comes at great risk. Who can you trust? Practically nobody. I wished I had friends and people liked me, but they didn’t. It wasn’t my fault they hated me–I never believed I did anything to deserve it. I had to accept that fact and move on. What also made things worse that I was growing up and society forced me to put my toys away and my imaginary friends had to fade. There was no woods to create a world here. There was no escape from the crushing loneliness I felt. My family wasn’t enough. My friend from Rome would come down during the summer for a week and it would go by so quickly. When she would leave it seem like just a drop of cool water to my hot,  parched throat.

It was then at age 16, I wrote my first book: Neiko’s Five Land Adventure. I had found the key to return to my world in this new phase of life. I took up  writing to deal with the loneliness. A younger cousin also provided me with a means to reconjure my world since she wanted to come in when she was young. I had another human being come along on glorious adventures. Other books were written during this dark time. I didn’t care if I fit in or not again after that. I found another gem to put into my vault and keep to myself until later on until my family talked me into sharing.


Always prepared for battle

My long war with bullying has left me with social problems, trust issues, and an overall fear of people. I looked at my first job with fear. I was afraid to talk to coworkers and customers. I had to force myself to say hello. I was even afraid to ask someone for something from the back if I needed it. I didn’t  like giving people eye contact. When someone would come  up to me I would tense up and clench my fists like I was holding an imaginary sword and shield like I was a warrior bracing for attack. It was automatic–like a reflex. When attack came,  I was ready. This was normal  for me and easily dealt with. I dealt with bullying in the workplace. Coworkers and those customers. Oh, I wished I could give the bullying customer a good thrust from my spear and sword. But, I just had to hold up my shield and turn off my capacity to care which I could do like a light switch. Now, the coworkers were fair game. My first two jobs had bullies. My last public job didn’t.

People are scarier than this

That old adage, “They’re just people” was not so harmless to me. That was the problem: people. I was more afraid of people than I was of venomous snakes, alligators, tarantulas, scorpions, or snarling grizzly bears. No wild animal  on the planet frightened me more than people. Can you blame me? Wild animals don’t deliberately attack people unless they have a reason (defense, food) which is rare, people do and not have a reason for the attack.

Another social implication was that after receiving years upon years of negative and attacks, I didn’t  know how to respond to positive feedback–real, genuine positive feedback. The only positive stuff I ever received was from family for many years; I only thought my family were the only people in the world who cared about me. I would feel confused, embarrassed, or is this really real?, or are you talking to me? if it was someone outside of family. Sometimes I wondered if they had an angle or a ulterior motive since I had examples of this in the past, and the most memorable was the  girl from the small town who pretended to be my friend and she used to say nice things to me before she did the unthinkable. I always waited for the ambush, but when it never came I was both relieved and confused.

Approaching people  I don’t know almost feels like I am approaching an edge of a cliff with the anticipation of jumping off. It’s hard enough for an introvert to do so anyway, but factor in the years upon years of bullying to the mix and you have genuine fear of people when you first interactions with people from coming out of isolation were bad when being a small child as young as 4 or 5.

When I met my husband, I had a lot of issues with trust. It took me a long time to trust him and to learn he was genuine and that he wouldn’t betray me. I was petrified for my first date. I was a young adult and I needed my dad there for support. That was how scared I was of him. I had learned to fear men at the romantic end since they all played games with me or betrayed me. I was okay with them being ‘friends’ (not true friends), but more than that–no way. My trust can’t take it that far. If it ended badly I wanted my dad to see it and for my ticket out. Also, we had to travel 70 miles to his house from where we lived. Also, my dad was responsible for the set-up so he was going to take me there. At first, I was a little mad at my parents for doing this to me, but later I thank them.

It has taken  a lot of personal growth and counseling to begin to lower the shield  and spear and rebuild my ability to trust. I still have a hard time with betrayal and approaching people. I am a WIP. I am beginning to allow people in until they give me a reason not to trust them. Now, I don’t hate people, but I do have some trepidation approaching and starting a conversation.

The good things that may have come of it are extreme personal strength, self reliance, self discipline, and the ability to write novels.

If you survive bullying it can make you stronger but the journey is hard. Some suffer through it longer than others and some have more extreme than others. It would be nice if it was gone.

Always watchful or else be consumed

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Weirdest Jeopardy! Episode Ever

This past Thursday night I was hanging out with my grandmother-in-law (hubby’s grandmother) after a long hard day of writing, editing, and laundry. We were trying to find something good on the boob-tube and there just wasn’t too much on. I decided to turn it on the Game Show Network (GSN) to catch Deal or No Deal. After that Jeopardy came on.

I have enjoyed this game show ever since I was a kid along with Wheel of Fortune. Now this show had a couple clues that were just downright strange and funny. Even on the same Jeopardy! board.

Saw a Friend

The first clue came under the category “Page Turners”. A fellow indie author that I happened to know from social media and from the IBC appeared  in the clue. It went like this:

Ann Charles sets a creepy  novel in this morbid-sounding South Dakota city

None of the three contestants got it, but I knew the answer: Deadwood.

I clapped my hands together and said, “I know her! OMG! How weird is that!” I had to tweet this on Twitter. I found out from a couple other people that they found out after her brother sent her a screenshot which she posted on Facebook. Just look up Ann Charles on Facebook and she has the clue as her profile pic (at the time of this writing). It was basically like a friend/coworker had a clue about them on Jeopardy and I found out about it. For Ann it was surreal until she saw proof for herself!

Here is a link to the Jeopardy Archives for Season 28 (2012) and look for May 17, 2012.

I Think Every Indie Author Knew This Question

On the same board under the category “Off the Presses” had a clue that went something like this:

This large online bookseller says that ebooks outsold both paperbacks and hardbacks


Publishers, indie authors, and everyone in the publishing industry’s blogs are going ablaze with the numbers about this but then there are still people who want a paperback book. Even though the ebooks are outselling them, we can’t short-change our customers (readers). It doesn’t make good business sense. If you can’t afford to use the prime service  of some of the cutting edge self publishers, then you can always turn to CreateSpace. It has DIY software for paperbacks and great customer support. If you have cover art for your ebook you should be able to use it for your paperback too! Since it is POD you don’t have to have a stockpile.

So you can see how this was a strange show for me and several other indie authors. It seemed like our line of work made its way into pop culture!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Meanest Backwood Joke Ever

Ripe Persimmons

There is a joke that parents do to their kids when introducing them to the woods or when backwoods people bring their friends to the woods.  Luckily  no one gets hurt or the bejeezus scared out of them, but it is cruel to the person it happens to and a laugh to the pranksters.

Once it happens to you you want to pass it on to someone else to see them experience it for themselves.


Green/unripe persimmon

Persimmons are edible fruit that grow in the woods. When they are ripe they are as good as candy. They are sugary and sweet. You can eat them from the tree, make jelly, pie, pudding, or just about anything with them.

Not when they’re green (unripe) though.

All it takes is one bite.

When you bite into a green persimmon it is more sour than a Warhead or a Cry Baby. Your lips will pucker and go dry like someone just put a wad of cotton in your mouth. The discomfort doesn’t just end there even if you spit it out. Imagine if your dentist dumped  an entire bottle of Novocaine into your mouth. You can’t feel anything. You can’t even talk, spit, and it seems to last forever.

You have people laughing at you when your lips are puckered and you can’t feel anything in your mouth. Quite frankly you speak with a fat tongue.

I was probably four or five years old when my PARENTS did it to me when we were walking the woods one day.  It was not funny for me.  I wouldn’t  try any food my parents offered me for a month that I didn’t identify. I wasn’t taking any chances.

My husband had it done to him by his grandfather.

My husband and I both did it to my younger sister.

Other boys did it to other boys.

The list goes on.

Quite frankly, I am surprised that the FDA hasn’t approved of a natural alternative to Novocaine by using unripe persimmon juice. If it can work on contact in under a second to deaden someone’s mouth, what would it do after injection? Honestly, I think the stuff was more potent than Novocaine. There is no wait for thirty minutes for the stuff to “kick in”. You could be ready for a root canal in five minutes flat.

Don’t believe me? Go somewhere, find, and bite a green persimmon. I dare you! 😛

Posted in Backwood Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Copperhead Crossfire

Last year during the spring and summer of 2011, we had the worst year of copperhead bites in history in the US Deep South. A lot of this had to do with the drought last year that dried up a lot of creeks and streams where wildlife would go to find water. The snakes and their prey were all looking for water.

Where did they all come?

Where humans are. We have almost limitless water supplies to our homes from our wells or from the city.

This had some to do with my adventure in “Copperhead in the Chicken Coop”. Someone else we know had been bitten by a copperhead doing maintenance around a building where he reached into a drainage pipe where a copperhead was hiding.

Anyway, this year already is starting off a lot like last year–dry and more snakes coming close to home. My husband and I have already seen more snakes around this year on roads and job sites. Not all of them have been copperheads, mind you.

One of my friends from school posted on Facebook that her husband had suffered from a copperhead bite. Not good.

Of any venomous snake bites, copperhead bites are not as life threatening as rattlesnake or cottonmouth bites, but they still need to be treated seriously. They are rarely fatal, but they can still cause infections, disfigurement, or other problems. Going to the doctor is still a good idea. Copperheads are more likely to give you a “dry bite”, but it’s always best to be safe than than sorry.

Can you spot the copperhead?

Most of the time, encounters with humans are by accident. If they aren’t in or underneath something, people step close or on them since they are so well camouflaged and stay very still. They don’t make any noise like a rattlesnake and they aren’t antagonistic like a cottonmouth is. They blend in very well in clay or dead leaves; this makes it possible for them to ambush their prey. It’s just we humans get caught in the crossfire.

Snakes don’t deliberately seek people out and attack them. They are more afraid you than you are of them. Some people would disagree with me on that one. Look at it this way. How would you feel if you encountered a giant something-or-other? That is how you appear to them. Would you attack to defend yourself? Until you prove the giant friendly, would you take chances?

I, for one, like snakes. Even venomous ones. They do have a purpose and place in nature. Venomous snakes require a care and respect when you encounter them. Most of the time you don’t see them unless you are looking for them or have things in the yard that will attract them or their prey…but for this year and last year I would say Mother Nature is throwing a curve-ball with all the droughts here lately!

I just hope that the drought brings in the rattlers too!

Posted in Backwood Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Mark Levine

Here is my guest post/interview with Mark Levine the author of the Fine Print of Self Publishing and founder of Hillcrest Media Group. This was a lot of fun to write and the questions are a lot of fun. The title is great too.

I am glad to cross promote him since he has been such a big help  in so many other ways than this since I am one of the thousands of people ripped off by unscrupulous publishers and  his book has helped tons of people (including me).

Hope you stop by and enjoy!

Author Amanda Taylor Wants the Rock

Posted in Interviews and Book Events, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the Blizzard of ’93

The Blizzard of 1993 has been named the “Storm of the Century” due to its massive size, complexity, and for the havoc it caused. Another thing that is memorable about it is that a blizzard happened where blizzards don’t happen–in the SE of the US. In the Deep South, we rarely get snow anyway, but when we do it’s a mess. Now, this really takes the cake.

When we get snow in the Deep South, we get what we call “wet snow”–not the powdery, fluffy stuff you get elsewhere. When the snow melts, we get tons of slush that can refreeze overnight giving you black ice. Travelling this for miles instead of a block adds to disaster,  and you must worry about the other people… This storm was no different in that aspect, but we had more wet snow than we knew what to do with.

For more stats on the Blizzard of ’93 check out this article on Wikipedia.

In March of 1993 I was a 12-year-old living with her parents in Rome, GA. Rome is located in the NW side of Georgia close to Alabama and Tennessee. The entire time we lived here we dealt with all kinds of extreme weather during the spring and fall. This is probably one of the worst and most memorable episodes on Backwoods TV…

The beginning of the day was a normal Friday. I got home from the bus and walked up our long driveway to get a snack, watch some cartoons and go on a backwood excursion. I had to cut it short since we had to pick my dad up from work since we only had one car at that time.


During the thirty-minute commute the storm hits. At first, it’s appears to be a regular snow, but there had been snow in the forecast and why Mom was anxious to go pick up my dad before dark. The closer we get to my dad’s job the more it starts snowing harder and harder. We are driving in downtown Rome in the middle of a whiteout. My mother is freaking out, but we get there–a miracle. After a few minutes we are ready to leave, but then the snowflakes have gotten larger and add to the weirdness. There were snowflakes the size of flapjacks. I’ll never forget that. They would flop over on themselves as they fell and floated to the ground like of pieces of paper. My dad drives us home since he has steelier nerves and it is also dark now–and in the middle of a whiteout. It’s a miracle we make it home. Even HE had to drive slow and careful!

Once we get home I go out and frolic about in the snow. I love snow. I walk in the woods at dark in a mini-adventure. However, the same path I walked no longer had my footprints–my footprints were filled with new snow in less than five minutes. That was weird, too. We go to bed.

A Thundersnow

The next morning we get up and it’s still snowing! To add, we had snow almost to the bird-feeder. We go outside and try to play in it. We couldn’t–there was too much snow. It was hard to walk in it. We had to high-step to be able to walk. I wanted to do my favorite pasttime of walking the woods to see them in snow.  That was definitely out. I only got so far and was worn out in no time flat. I was stripping off clothes since I was burning up from the toil even though it was like 20-something degrees outside. Walking in this much snow even wore out the dog. As we are playing and the snow is falling later on in the day, we hear thunder and see lightning. The snow clouds are a weird color. Now THAT’s just weird! A snow thunderstorm (called a thundersnow)? Can this storm get any weirder?

Sometime that day the power goes out. Joy. Our little adventure is just beginning. The power stays off all day and as daylight drops so does the temperature. We get us a fire going in the fireplace. Thank God! Anyway we also hang up blankets over the living room doors to close off the rest of the house since it was a large house and the fireplace couldn’t heat all of it. Mom takes the loveseat; I take the couch, and Dad takes his favorite recliner, and we sleep in the living room.

Days pass in this fashion. We become dependent on the fireplace for warmth and more. Our stove was electric so we had to use the fireplace for cooking as well. We used a dutch oven to cook chili and other stuff and we hung it up on the flue. My parents made coffee with a hot-coal peculator. I had to read books by kerosene lamp or candlelight. We had stepped back in time, and I am certainly glad we had this stuff to fall back on! We also had to use the dutch oven to heat water to take a bath in the sink.

It has been about six days and we still are without power. We live way out in the boondocks. We are beginning to run low on firewood. We had a nice little trail in the deep snow to the woodpile. The snow was slowly melting. I haven’t been to school in a week, but I was kind of glad. However, I am beginning to miss my Nintendo because I am a gamer after all. I also miss talking to my friend. I couldn’t call her since the phones were down, too. The snow was staying around forever.

After seven days we finally have power! I was happy! I played Nintendo after I got tired of playing in the snow. Even though the power was back on, and everything was hunky-dory, we still didn’t go to school for another 3 or 4 days because of down trees, remaining snow, and tons of black ice.

Now what happens here really SUCKS! When school is back in we have to have school  on a Saturday. OMG! All the students have a cow, even me. If anyone skips they are going to spend a day in ISS on Monday unless they are sick and have a doctor’s note. Six straight days of school, Sunday off, and another full week of school. *moans, groans, and head desk* I recall them also taking some our holidays off away, but that didn’t suck as much as having school on Saturday. I don’t think ANYTHING so far that happened or COULD suck more than having to go to school on Saturday. No cartoons, no wood adventures. And, to top it all off, they gave us homework, and lots of it in every stinkin’ subject. Salt to the wound! UGH!

This is my week long adventure in the Blizzard of ’93. It’s always a charm to talk about and share!

Posted in Backwood Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kickstarter Experiment/Pre-publication Drive

My new upcoming book Escape from Ancient Egypt has been sent to the editor, but during the time it is at the editor I was introduced to Kickstarter by a friend. I had never heard of it before. It is a platform to gather support for a project. Well, I decided to experiment with it and see what happens. This is my first round with Kickstarter, so I’m not pretending to know everything, but it works the same way as any pre-publcation drive for a book (or project). I will also note that this is really testing my comfort level in so many ways. I even had to make a video of myself. #egad It’s on the project page for your viewing pleasure 😛 You know what they always say, “What don’t kill you will make you stronger!”

This is also kind of like the pre-publication drive for my second book that I DIDN’T do for my first book–I wasn’t lazy or scared. I just didn’t know. Like I said in earlier posts, I didn’t know much about publishing or know anyone to ask. I have learned a lot since then and am anxious to try it on a new release.

The beauty that I already see from Kickstarter is that I am having to do what I would do for a release before publishing anyway, but there is some pressure involved–on me. If I don’t meet my intended goal then nobody wins. If I do meet the goal EVERYBODY wins.

Since this is my book and my project, it is my responsibility to bug people–er–share :P. This isn’t a one way street, BTW. To do Kickstarter you must reward people for contributing to the goal with a product of the project. If the goal is met and the people who pledge (at any level) get dibs on the first copies (print and/or ebook) of Escape from Ancient Egypt. At the very least, please SHARE the project link below.

I hope to use this platform to start spreading awareness and to help get more books out to more people. This is a good warm-up for all the other stuff I need to do after release. If I don’t meet the goal, the book will still get published but on a much smaller scale and nobody gets VIP treatment or dibs on first books.  For more info on rewards visit the project page (link below).

I also promise to list the names of the people who contributed in the book when it is published. I may do something more intersting other than the “Acknowlegements” section. #yawn Since this book is set in ancient Egypt and Ramesses II is the pharaoh, I can have “Ramesses’ Elite of the Court”. I will also share the names of the “court”  on this blog and do a write-up about my experience with Kickstarter  on my business blog From the experience, I can help other people do this.

Project Page, Link and Info

Escape From Ancient Egypt

Project Link: (visit and share!!!)

  1. For reward and other info please visit the project page!
  2. We (yes we) all must meet the goal or nobody gets any dibs on first books with VIP treatment!
  3. Don’t forget to share! I can only do so  much on my own!
Posted in Book Promotions and Extras, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment