Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Writing Sample Wednesday ~ Chynna's Middle Grade Novel About Bullying (WIP)

Several years ago, my second oldest girl was a victim of bullying. It came as a total surprise to me because this is a girl who everyone wanted to be friends with, who went out of her way to make other kids feel accepted, who stood up for kids (and her siblings) who weren't being treated fairly and whose bright smile elicited the same in everyone around her. Her teachers even got classmate who were shy or having difficulty making friends to pair with her as she was always able to bring such a child out of their shell.

How could a girl like this experience bullying to the point where she convinced herself that her existence meant nothing to anyone?

I wouldn't even be able to pinpoint exactly when or how it all started. All I know is that my usual fun-loving, bright sunshiny girl came home from school every day in tears, locking herself either in the bathroom or her bedroom. She never talked about it or even came right out to let us know who was behind the cruel treatment she'd gotten, but I was heartbroken for her.

Despite what many people think, bullying doesn't always come from some enormous guy named Bubba demanding lunch money. In fact, a lot of times, it isn't about size or physical advantage that one has over another. Most times, bullying is about jealousy and control. And in these modern times, kids have access to a wide variety of media that enables them to bully on a level that is much more expansive and damaging even from when I was young.

Each of my four children has experienced some form of bullying at one time, which inspired me to write a Middle Grade novel focusing on this issue in such a way that offers comfort to the bullied as well has, hopefully, send a message to the bully that this sort of behavior is unacceptable and intolerable. And as in all of my books, I throw the message out there in a subtle, non-preachy way.

I chose this particular age group because bullying often starts in Elementary school, and often carries on throughout the school years and even in to adulthood (yes, adults can be bullies too). This ill-treatment can have an irreversible affect on a child if not nipped in the bud as soon as possible. The victims of bullying can hold onto the hurt they'd experienced, which greatly influences the sort of relationships they'll allow themselves to have in the future.

My question while writing this book has been, 'Who has the right to decide they have the power to chip away at another person's self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth to the point that they have none?' My answer?

Nobody.

It takes an extremely long time, if ever, to re-build those things. This is simply my way of advocating on this issue. I'm sharing a short snippet from the first chapter to introduce the character and hint to what she'd been through.

I hope you enjoy the read and feel free to add your own thoughts, ideas or stories.
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June 28, 1981

Summer vacation. Finally!

Ten-year-old Chelsey Freedman tip-toed across the cool grass, still soaking with morning dew. Her bare feet flicked tiny droplets of cool water onto the tops of her bare feet, but she didn’t care.  For the first time in almost a year, she felt free…alive.

She stopped halfway between the fence surrounding the back yard of her townhouse and the community park a few yards away. She closed her eyes, breathing in the nippy early morning air, and raised her arms. She spun as fast as she could, her pastel flower-patterned tank top sundress flowing out like one of those gorgeous gowns she’d seen ballerinas wear. She went on until the ground moved on its own, causing her to crumple into the wet grass in a heap of giggles.
Chelsey lay there for a minute, staring up at the deep blue sky. The cottony clouds scattered here and there. Her dress was getting wet. So was her hair. And she just…didn’t…care. She made a grass dew angel, then scrambled up and ran to the park.

The swing.

She needed to swing.

No one else was there so early in the morning so she got first pick. The middle one…yeah! She backed into the swing, also soaked with dew. She walked backwards until she was on the very tips of her tippy-toes, then jumped up into the seat.

Whoosh!

She pushed her legs up to the sky, leaning as far back as she could. Her waist-length strawberry blonde hair brushed against the ground beneath her as she pushed forward. Then she pulled herself back, tucking her legs tightly against the bottom of the swing, yanking on the thick, cool chains. She repeated the motion several times until she got a strong rhythm going and she was swinging higher.

Nothing mattered anymore.

The school year was over.

Swinging forward, her dress flowed up past her thighs. Going back, her thick hair covered her face. Her feet glistened, tiny blades of grass sticking to her toes and to the bottoms of her feet. She leaned as far back as she could on the backswing, closing her eyes as she enjoyed the tickling feeling in the pit of her stomach.

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks…

Only it wasn’t the teachers’ looks Chelsey was relieved to be away from. As she pumped her legs, keeping the momentum going, she tried being happy that Grade Four was finally over.

“Don’t look back,” her grandmother always said. “There’s more to look forward to than what’s done behind us.”

Chelsey knew Grandma was right. But sometimes things that happened back then can make things about to happen a lot scarier to face. What if the same things happened in Grade Five? What if she sees some of those kids over the summer? What if she runs into Jill?

The tickles in her stomach turned into pain twinges. She tried making the pain disappear by pushing her legs harder.  She spread her toes over a cloud above her, making it look as though she’d stepped in a huge blob of whipped cream.

Boy, if I go any higher, I’ll flip right over the bar!

The swing flew back down and she tucked her legs under her bum. Her body felt free, like she was going to fly. Closing her eyes, she felt her body being pulled back up. The swing bar squeaked with each move.

She’d be safe now. Things had to get better, right?

Her thoughts drifted back while she pumped.

Whoosh…whoosh…whoosh…

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Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!


Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr-vJ8W7YA