Monday, October 14, 2013

Authors Retreat & Bullies Beware!

New CK header

Today, rather than talk about the Old West, I’d like to share with you my inspiring weekend with fellow members of Yellow Rose Romance Writers. Based in Grapevine, Texas, northeast of Fort Worth, we are a small, intimate chapter of RWA.

Once a year in October, we invite our members to a weekend retreat to talk writing and enjoy each other’s company. We just spent two days in a gorgeous residence on Eagle Mountain Lake, a few miles west of my home. Awesome surroundings, good food, fellowship and a few glasses of wine made for great fun! Best of all, our special guest, isten Lamb, presented a fantastic workshop on the use of Social Media, blogs in particular.

Kristen is a smart, funny lady who entertains while she teaches. She had us all laughing at stories about her “spawn” – her adorable four-year-old son and life in general. At the same time, she explained how to build an audience on our blogs and develop loyal fans for our books. One point she stressed is the need to connect with readers on a personal level. That’s something I plan to work on starting here and now.

Right, but how? Thinking, thinking . . . aha! Let me get the ball rolling by telling you about a time in my childhood when I was bullied. It’s a topic we hear about on the news all the time, but that’s not the same as experiencing it yourself. I did more than once while growing up.

The first time occurred when I was in fourth grade. There was this boy who thought he was top dog on the school playground. Every day at recess, he threw his weight around. The other boys followed his lead, intimidating us girls, especially me because I was the bully’s rival in class. He resented me for one-upping him when the teacher asked questions. I admit I was kind of a showoff. Blame it on my dad. He was handicapped the same as I am, but that man was nobody’s pushover. He was proud and competitive and expected the same of me, which led to my confrontation with the bullyboy.

One day he and his pals had been pushing the girls around, including me, showing us who was boss. Well, I got mad, picked up a rock – not a real big one, but big enough to sting – and threw it at him. OMG! You’d think I’d shot him. He starting balling like a baby and went running inside to tattle on me. Moments later I stood in front of our teacher, getting chewed out for throwing the rock. It wasn’t pleasant for a girl who loved being teacher’s pet, believe me. But I had the last laugh. After that day the bully steered clear of me.

Have you ever been bullied? I’d love to hear your story. Or, if you have experience with social media you’d like to share, bring it on.

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Barbara Bettis said...

Lyn, that retreat and the topic sound fabulous. I need to learn how to connect with readers on a personal basis, too. I just don't know what to say about myself, because I lead such a boring life.

Great post. You're off to a fantastic start on your objective. Barb Bettis

Caroline Clemmons said...

I was a bully magnet as a kid and so were my daughters. Bullying has become worse, IMO. Good post.

Unknown said...

I love the sound of that retreat. And I do think blogs often do better when they are personal in some way.
Me? I don't ever remember being bullied. Not many kids were, I don't think, in the fifties, although I do remember a few. I asked my husband if he'd ever been bullied, and he said no, but he knew a kid that was a bully, and he and his friends always tried to get the better of him in some way. Don't ask me how--I'm a girl. We went to a small West Texas town school.
A boy in fifth grade, though, I remember as a bully. He never bothered me except one time.
At recess, my girlfriend and I sat on the sidewalk and played jacks. He came along--he had a cast on for a broken ankle. No crutches, though. He wanted to walk on the sidewalk, so with his foot that had the cast, he kicked all our jacks into the dirt.
I jumped up and kicked him on his cast. He was furious. I had my ears pierced and wore small gold hoops. He reached out and jerked an earrings, causing a tiny split and blood, and I was screaming at him. The teacher came out and he said, "Celie Ann kicked my broken ankle." I said nothing about my ear. She made both of us sit on the other side of the building on the ground, side by side, with our backs to the bricks.
We never said a word to each other and I hated that boy for the rest of my life.
And I was angry at the teacher because I didn't think I should have been punished.
So. My story.
Good post!

Lyn Horner said...

Barb, Kristen is amazing. She saw ways to turn everything we talked about into a blog post. She is so imaginative and has a great sense of humor. It's easy to see how she built her huge following. She inspired me, but I don't think I can ever be as funny and entertaining as her. But doggone it, I'm going to try!

Lyn Horner said...

Caroline, we missed you so much at the retreat. I hope you're okay.

I was a bully magnet too, especially in junior high. By then I was walking "funny" due to my neuromuscular disorder, so I got teased by certain kids for that. Over time I became self-conscious and introverted and had few friends. My dad forced me to get counseling. My counselor was an older lady, very grandmotherly, and a great listener. She coaxed me into reaching out to a couple girls in my class. We became fast friends. One of them was a bridesmaid for me several years later.

Lyn Horner said...

Celia, I'd hate that boy for life too! I bet you wished you could break his other ankle. ;-)

Carole St-Laurent said...

Don't you just love writers retreat? Fun times!

I was bullied by a boy in the school bus, until the day I told him I'd had enough and if he didn't stop, I'd kick his butt. He didn't stop. I kicked his butt. When the driver separated us, I still had a bunch of his hair in my fist.

He left me alone after that. Sometimes, it's the only way.

Lyn Horner said...

Carole, you got that right. There are times when we need to say enough and give the bullies a taste of their own medicine. Of course, these days it might be wise to first find out if the bully caries a gun.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Sometime I hope you share with us some pointers from that retreat ablout blogs and creating a fan base. It mystifies me how to do that.
Lordy, who hasn't been bullied in school at some point in their life? I loved the way you threw that rock at the big cry baby bully. I worry about kids today because bullying has taken on a really ugly and intense aspect with the creation of Facebook.
Loved your blog today.

Lyn Horner said...

Thanks, Sarah. I do plan to blog in more detail about what I learned during the retreat. I'll let you know when it posts.

I'm glad you approve of my response to the bullyboy. :)