Authors Against Bullying – My Story

Bullying Kills. It destroys hearts, egos, and takes lives. Whether it’s in person or online doesn’t matter. The effect is the same.

These are my stories of being bullied, as a kid, a teenager, and an author:

I moved around a lot as a kid. My father wasn’t in the military; he was a college professor, and each time he did a presentation at a conference he’d charm someone and get job offers. I don’t remember the first three states but I do remember Buffalo (Williamsville) NY. It was freezing, our driveway was downhill and we ruined jeans every winter sliding to the bottom for the bus. I also remember my mother telling the nuns at school that I needed to stay in my class, not move up a year, because I shouldn’t leave my friends behind. Then we moved, again and I wished she’d let me advance.

I was 10 when we moved to Phoenix, AZ, my 5th different state. At a local Catholic school, I was the “new kid.” Isolated and talked about to my face but never using my name. This is a girl’s signature bullying tactic that dares you to say something and leaves room for the absurd “prove it was you we’re talking about” denial.  [A now-popular bully tactic on Twitter.] I sat up front and ignored the rest of the class. I don’t remember a single friend from there. On the playground, I always found my brother.

I learned a lot that year about  the closeness of family (my brother is still one of my best friends), and knowing who you are and remaining true to that. The next year, 5th grade, I changed to a public school. Again, the new kid. This time I was a little stronger. I didn’t care if the ‘cool’ kids liked me or paid attention to me. It hurt, but I didn’t show it. The kid who developed a crush on me was ridiculed and teased. 10 year olds can be cruel.

Then I met Karen. She lived across a 4 lane highway from me and had three older sisters. She and the other kids in our neighborhood welcomed us and we built a happy life.  Then ¾ of the way through my 7th grade year, we moved again. I adapted well to the last quarter of 7th grade, but only because I pretended I didn’t hear the jokes. My friend Karen’s mom had worked at a Hyatt Hotel. I wore one of their t-shirts to school because I missed my friend and was pulled aside. Apparently, at 12 yrs old, that made me “easy.” I ignored it so well they thought I was ‘tough’ by summer. Not true but I did nothing to change that perception.

It was mostly good until my senior year in high school. I was a nerd before it was cool. Being intelligent in school was not considered a good thing. Especially in a southeastern conference football town. I tried to blend in and hung out with some popular kids long enough to find out they had as many, if not more, insecurities than I did. Then I pulled back and just hung out with the kids I liked. I made friends, had boyfriends, acted in plays, swam competitively. There was some bullying from the local baptist kids. It was the first time I was told my Catholicism was a cult and was insulted for attending mass. I wasn’t alone and had friends from church who did their best to ignore them as well. The small parish in that town still only holds about 300 people. There’s no need to expand beyond that. The message is clear. In the south, Catholicism is not welcome.

Then the soccer team started in on me at the beginning of my senior year. Not just me, but my brother. I ignored it. It worked for me in the past so I didn’t see a need to change it. The problem? My brother couldn’t ignore it. They asked him where’d I been the night before at practice. Ya know, as I write this I realized – he never told me about it and I don’t know everything they said to him. Love him for that. A group of kids tried to get at me through my brother. Pathetic. It hurt my brother, and mom told me she had to talk to the kids parents. The backlash on the field could have been awful for him. But, in the goal was Mac, a friend and classmate of mine, the protector of the players on the field, and a huge mountain of a kid. He stood up to the bullies and told them, to their faces, to shut up.

They stopped. I learned, face down a bully and they stop.

My next experience with bullying is something you may have heard about. A couple of years ago, I sent a small indie publisher Your Biggest Fan. At the time, it was a 7080k story (14 pages). The publisher, who was polite and professional all the way through, told me it needed a lot of work. I agreed and signed the contract with one caveat, the main character’s story line remain in place. The second email from my assigned editor, who owned the pub, told me I “don’t have a plot” and then gave me a choice of Couple A or Couple B to build a 35k novella. It was Thursday night, and she gave me until Monday to pick. Instead, I contacted the publisher and asked for a new editor. She explained she was the only other person available and would require the same things. An offer to be released from the contract was included. I took it, and she returned my rights within 72 hours. The editor sent me one last email that was personally insulting and included a critique from “All seven of my children.” It foreshadowed what came next.

Was that bullying? Well the owner/editor certainly tried to bully me into changing my main plot. But I walked away, so not yet.

Three weeks later an award for “Worst Writer…” showed up in my Google alerts. It was at a review site I’d never heard of, but the message was clear. She referred to me as “Sunshine” and told me I’d need to “do the work sometime.” I ignored it. The review sites’ first follower was the publisher. I’d only had 3 stories accepted, and the other pub hadn’t assigned me an editor yet. The trail back to the owner/editor was clear in my mind.

Was it bullying? In my opinion, absolutely.

The next part gets nastier. After someone looked into the legitimacy of the review site, two more posts went up in quick succession. These included accusations of breach of privacy for readers, and, not surprisingly, the blame for all of it was placed at my feet. She even wrote a section warning publishers and agents about my lack of professionalism. BULLYING. And yes, although the site has been stripped to its bones, the offensive posts, with no basis in reality, are still there, which means the bullying continues.

The justification used on the site? “Graylin Fox had a “hissy fit” over a review.” That’s it. That’s all it took for members of the publishing community to hop up on their high horses, put on cleats, and ride over to jump up and down on my reputation until I either stopped writing or begged for mercy. All because a dog whistle went out: “author + review + hissy fit = ATTACK!”

This is where she got to stand back and watch other people take the lies she posted and bully me with them. Blogs went crazy with traffic ,and people jumped from one to the other, “like OMG something NEW came out.” A week after the bullshit started, I posted a reply. It was short, succinct, and made very clear that the accusations were crap. What I didn’t say at the time, because I didn’t think it was hard to follow – the person who made the accusations is a publisher hiding behind a review site.

Let me be clear here, if you participated in this – You bullied me.

I’ve purposely kept the names of people involved out of this post. So why bring it up?

Because the atmosphere that allowed this person to attack me without cause still exists. Seated behind a keyboard at home, a bully can make that one accusation against an author, and then watch sit back as their victim’s reputation is shredded by strangers. We all see these things fly by on twitter. This is the sole reason for this post.

I vow from today forward, I will never:

  • RT a tweet about someone not following the rules, or an author who posted a response to reviewers, or disobeyed the publishing cultures rules.
  • Write a blog post slamming an author who responded when they didn’t like a review.
  • Insult, degrade, or write nasty things about reviewers.
  • Jump into the melee when there’s nothing more than a weak thread of a rumor or unfounded accusation.
  • Tell people to “shut up and take it” because it will go away. {Passive assistance.}
  • ASSUME ANYTHING. ‘Nuff said there.

That’s my story. I ignored bullies up until I couldn’t anymore. If the only consequences to bullying are a few rogue voices being squelched by the masses, the problem won’t go away.

Graylin

My Fellow Participants: Special thanks to Mandy Roth, Michelle Pillow, and Yasmine Galenorn for this blog hop.

Mandy M. Roth
Yasmine Galenorn
Lauren Dane
Michelle M. Pillow
Kate Douglas
Shawntelle Madison 
Leah Braemel
Aaron Crocco
NJ Walters
Jax Garren
Shelli Stevens
Melissa Schroeder
Jaycee Clark
Shawna Thomas
Ella Drake
E.J. Stevens
Ashley Shaw
Jeaniene Frost
Rachel Caine
Kate Rothwell
Jackie Morse Kessler
Jaye Wells
Kate Angell
Melissa Cutler
PT Michelle
Patrice Michelle
Julie Leto
Kaz Mahoney
Cynthia D’Alba
Jesse L. Cairns
TJ Michaels
Jess Haines
Phoebe Conn
Jessa Slade
Kate Davies
Lynne Silver
Taryn Blackthorne
Margaret Daley
Alyssa Day
Aaron Dries
Lisa Whitefern
Rhyannon Byrd
Carly Phillips
Leslie Kelly
Janelle Denison
Graylin Fox
Lee McKenzie
Barbara Winkes
Harmony Evans
Mary Eason
Ann Aguirre
Lucy Monroe
Nikki Duncan
Kerry Schafer
Ruth Frances Long

Please feel free to leave your stories in the comments section. Thank you.

5 thoughts on “Authors Against Bullying – My Story

  1. Graylin,

    Thank you for helping to bring awareness to this. Thank you for sharing your story. I know we have the Catholic School nightmares in common. Pack mentality never fails to stun and horrify me.

  2. Graylin,
    Internet trolls and their associated “ignorants” are the cyber equivalent of schoolyard bullies. Eirelander Publishing and the blogging trolls who attacked you need to be held accountable for their actions.
    All my best,
    Mavis

  3. I was also a military brat, so I feel you there. Being new so often is very hard. And good for you for standing up to that publisher! What a horrible situation they put you in. I write book reviews, but even if I don’t like a book, I always say my readers should read it themselves and see if it works for them. I see no point in tearing a book apart. That author worked hard and it’s not my job to belittle them. Good for you, Grayline, for standing up to them. This is a great post. xo

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