So about nine years ago, DEAR BULLY, the anthology of authors telling their stories of being bullied, or standing by, or being bullies was released. Carrie was the co-editor for this anthology.
And I am so proud of all the authors in there.
HEY YOU! AUTHORS! I AM PROUD OF YOU!
For a lot of them, it was a big act of bravery to tell their stories. For a lot of them, it was a big act of bravery just to survive.
I was thinking about that right now because our country (The U.S.) is having some major difficulties and bullying is the norm despite all the efforts and advocacy that happened back in 2009.
And there are truths in every single story of that anthology that resonate. Those truths are that pain is real, that actions and words can shatter us, that it’s hard to remember how awesome you are when people are telling you that you aren’t.
And there are differences in the experiences too. Some authors hurt more than others. Some used the experience to try to become stronger. For every one of us, the story is our own, and it is different. But one of the biggest, and greatest truths in those stories is that each and every one of us survived. We all lived to tell our stories. And if you are reading this right now or listening on the podcast that means that you have lived through too.
And here’s the thing. You must keep on living and fighting and trying to remember that you are awesome even when people are hating on you.
People hating you doesn’t change that you have worth.
People being violent towards you, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve respect, and tolerance and love.
People ignoring you on purpose, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to exist.
And the opposite is true. You don’t get to hate, to decide other people’s worth, to be violent and disrespectful either. We have to be the shiny light that we want in our lives.
Writing Tip of the Pod
What’s this have to do with writing? Well, it was an anthology of true stories from writers that Carrie co-created, but it’s also about what makes the best stories.
Hint: It’s not just having a beginning, a middle, and an end.
It’s about having a point. It’s about believing in something. It’s about being honest and having something to say, something that might be hard to say but needs to be out there.
Dog Tip for Life
Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. It’s as simple as that.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.
On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.
It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.
So Monday I posted about my own bullying experiences and mentioned DEAR BULLY, an anthology that I co-edited. That book happened because Megan Kelley Hall and I felt so powerless after hearing the stories of two girls. One was Phoebe Prince. Phoebe killed herself after being bullied over and over again. The other girl was a kindergarten student, Jasmin Lovin, who survived her bullying, but was having a horrible time with nightmares and fear.
But the book was about more than just those two girls. Bullying is bigger than that and any identity factor or trait (real or perceived) can be used as a reason to deride and torment others.
I felt so powerless to help these kids all over our country. So as an author, I did the only thing I could think of doing; I asked for stories from other authors, so kids who had the opportunity to read the book could realize that they weren’t alone.
They weren’t. They aren’t.
As I told the International Literacy Worldwide Association during an interview, “It (a person’s bullying story) was about kids who were bullied about their sexual orientation, their size, their parents; kids were bullied about anything.”
The hope was that if we all shared how we had been bullied, kids could find hope in our survival, hope in the fact that some super cool authors like Z Brewer or Alyson Noel or R. L. Stine had survived and that they could too.
I was absolutely blown away by everyone’s support and everyone’s stories. And it made me incredibly sad that so many of you have bullying stories and that so many of you are still affected by bullying or are being affected right now.
I keep saying it breaks my heart but honestly my heart is shattering over and over again every time I hear a new story.
But I’m also really happy and proud of everyone for sharing and wanting to help and wanting to make change. You are awesome.
And now I’m going to tell some bullying stories from one person’s life. It’s not about me. It’s about my daughter, Em of Awesome, and she’s given me permission, I swear. Em would never categorize herself as either a bullied kid or a hero. I think that’s important somehow.
BULLYING STORY 1
So, when Em was four she went to a Waldorf nursery school. I took her there so she could know how to hang with other kids and also because I love the whole Waldorf philosophy which is, “the human being is fundamentally a spiritual being and that all human beings deserve respect as the embodiment of their spiritual nature.”
So, Em had gone there for about a month when I came to pick her up. Her little cotton dress was all ripped and her face was splotched because she’d been crying. The teachers were all consoling and talking to another little girl, Hannah.
Em launched herself into my arms and I said, “What happened, baby?” because that is what mommies ask.
And she said, “Hannah threw me down and told me she was a lion and was going to eat me up and she ripped my dress and wouldn’t let me up.”
And I hugged her and asked her what the teachers did and she said, “They are talking to Hannah.”
And I said, “Did they talk to you?”
And she said, “No.”
So, I went and talked to the teachers (who are all lovely by the way) and I asked them what happened and they said the same thing as Em. And then they told me that Hannah had been jealous of Em who was somehow really good at sewing and reading (and basically everything – such is the curse of being Em) so Hannah was acting out her rage.
And I asked if Hannah was told that it wasn’t cool to rip another girl’s dress, threaten to kill her, and tackle her. And they told me that they hadn’t because Hannah was merely expressing herself. This was the escalation of her being angry and jealous for awhile.
And then I asked if anyone had comforted Em.
And they said, “No. We were focusing on Hannah.”
This is when I took Em out of the school forever because I honestly thought the spiritual growth and support of the bullied, beaten-up kid was just as important as the spiritual growth and worth of the kid who bullied.
And also because I often have no chill.
Life Lesson here:
If you feel your kid is in a situation that isn’t healthy for them and you have the means to take them out of that situation? Take them out.
Random note: This same girl who lion attacked Em laughed at me for telling over a decade later for telling her I needed more information before signing a petition about an issue in our town.
Bullying Story #2
Em has been bullied again, but never to a horrible extreme, and she’s lucky. And she’s also turned into one of those kids/young adults who stands up for other people who are being bullied.
One time a boy in third grade was tormenting a girl in the lunch line because of her eye shape. The girl was Aleutian. Em (who has always had wicked verbal skills) went up one side of him and down the other and announced to everyone, “M- has the most beautiful eyes ever.”
M said, “You think so?”
Em said, “Um… yeah. You are so pretty, especially your eyes.”
And the girl told Em that the boy had been bullying her about her looks for forever. Em was the first one who heard and said something.
Life Lesson Here:
Standing up for others in the moment when they can’t manage it themselves, is okay. Another lesson, if you love someone. If you think the are beautiful, let them know.
Bullying Story #3
Another time Em battled an Ed Tech who told one of her friends during PE that she threw the ball “like she was r-word.”
(Sorry. I hate that word. I couldn’t write it.)
Yes, the Ed Tech said the actual word.
Yes, the Ed Tech worked with what the school district labels as ‘special needs’ kids.
Yes, the Ed Tech saw nothing wrong with what she said.
Yes, Em’s friend cried and cried about it. She had issues with reading back then. The Ed Tech knew that. She bullied her right into a sobbing mess on the gym floor.
Life Lesson Here:
Bullies can be grown-ups. We’ve all learned that, right? We just call them trolls when they are on social media.
Bullying Story #4
We were at a big conference in LA full of children’s book writers and the key note speaker was hanging out talking by the pool. Em waited her turn and told him how much she loved his books. She was pretty small so he looked kind of shocked that she had read them. Anyways, he was super nice and they were talking when three women who wanted to be children’s writers came over and shoved her out of the way to talk to him.
Seriously, they just pushed her.
Keynote Author Man got this shocked/stunned looked and asked if Em was okay.
The ladies? Didn’t even blink.
Em wasn’t a person to them, and I think a lot of the time that’s what happens. Bullies forget that they are bullying people with feelings and coolness and quirks and emotions. Or maybe they don’t forget? Maybe they just don’t care.
Life Lesson Here:
Rudeness can happen in places where you least expect it. Adults ignoring, berating, tormenting, discounting kids? That’s something that makes an impact. Yes, those ladies were just rude once, so it’s not technically ‘bullying,’ but having the gatekeepers, the movers, the shakers, the people in positions of power and authority ignore you over and over again? That makes an impact.
Em was a quiet kid, but she was fierce, and she was so lucky that she has had the opportunity to be so fierce and strong and what kills me is that so many of us don’t. So many of us don’t have the tools to keep dealing with bullies over and over again. So many of us don’t know that other people have had to deal with it, too. So many of us don’t realize that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t the only one with our dress ripped, or called names, or physically attacked or pushed aside by women who want to write stories for us, but more than that, they want to talk to the semi-famous man.
That’s why we all have to do whatever small thing we can. That might be standing up like Em; it might be joining a Facebook page; it might be telling our stories; it might just be giving someone a hug. It might be changing ourselves so that when someone calls us out on bad behavior we don’t get defensive and stubborn but we actually listen and care about their feelings more than our own just for a moment at least.
I know. I know… It seems so little. But it’s something.
I’ve recently contributed to the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and Megan Kelley Hall and I co-edited another anthology, DEAR BULLY, which was an effort of writers, readers, bloggers and people to raise awareness about bullying. The money we raise from Dear Bully’s royalties continues each year to support programs meant to raise awareness about bulling and support those who have suffered. I am so grateful for that opportunity.
But it doesn’t feel like enough, you know? Nothing ever feels like enough.
DO GOOD WEDNESDAY
If you’re a survivor of bullying, please know that you aren’t alone. Check out this website for some resources. And if you are a person who bullies? Try to get some help too. Your life can be so much better than it is now. Let’s change our culture into something better.
The Class at the Writing Barn
The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.
Praise for Carrie Jones and Write. Submit. Support:
“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.
Flying and Enhanced – the Young Adult Science Fiction Series
Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.
This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action – School Library Journal
Sparty knows all about that. More info about FLYING is here and the rest of my books? Right here.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!
I don’t usually write about the bad things that have happened to me.
That’s a choice I deliberately make that has nothing to do with other writers and their choices. It’s just about me.
I don’t usually write about the bad things that have happened to me because I don’t want them to define me. I want people to meet me, Carrie Jones, and not think about my past, or things I’ve battled. I want them to just see me. I don’t like pity. I really don’t like stigma. I like to just be my goofy, quirky, flawed self.
And tonight I don’t get to do that.
That’s because I made a choice to be a part of THINGS I HAVEN’T SAID, an anthology for teens about surviving sexual assault. I made a similar choice when I edited DEAR BULLY and wrote about being bullied for my voice. That bullying is part of the reason I get so stressed about our podcast. I still have people mock my voice. Adults.
But both of those times, I made the choice that makes me uncomfortable because I believed it was for the better good. I made those choices because stories of surviving and eventually thriving need to be out there. My sexual assault gave me mono. The Epstein Barr virus that causes mono attacked my brain causing cognitive degeneration and seizures. I live with the knowledge that I used to be smarter, more articulate, with a better memory. I live with the knowledge that this changed because of what someone did to me.
And I thrive.
It resurfaces. There is still frustration and annoyance and pain.
But I thrive.
I even get hugged.
And that’s why when someone like Erin asks me to help kids by sharing my story? I do it. Even though I don’t want the labels, or to be defined by the things that were done to me. I want to be defined by the things I do, the choices I make, the stories I write.
There’s power in that.
But anyway, THINGS I HAVEN’T SAID is out now. I’ll be in Exeter, NH tonight at Water Stone Book Store at 7 p.m. as part of a panel. I’ve never been so afraid of being part of a panel before. Ever. But the proceeds of books sales go to HAVEN, that serves women, men and children affected by domestic and sexual violence and tries to prevent violence.
That’s a big deal. Come hang out. Help me be brave.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!