Thursday, February 3, 2011

Her Name was Leena. The story of a victim of bullying in school.


I don’t understand why kids are so cruel! I mean, I always minded my own business. I made good grades and never bothered anyone.
Were these kids jealous because I made better grades than they did? I’m not sure.
I do know that they seemed to get a big kick out of making fun of my clothes and shoes. I couldn’t help it if my mother wasn’t able to buy me trendy clothes or expensive shoes. My father died when I was three years old. My mother never remarried.
You know, even though she had to shop for me at discount stores, I always had new clothes and shoes to start out every school year and I was always appreciated my mom.
I remember I always hated to ride the bus! I remember there was always an empty seat in the middle of the bus, so I was forced to have to take that seat because it was the only one available. Oh the cruelty I would endure, day in and day out, both on the way to and from school. I remember these girls would pull my hair and there was a couple of incidences where one of the football jocks would stand up and deliberately fall on me and then blame me for tripping them! How could I have possibly “tripped” him? I was sitting in my seat!
Well, after a few times of that happening, the bus driver put a stop to it and he made sure I had a seat at the very front of the bus. Needless to say, I was very grateful for that. Nobody dared to harass me up front. I sat right behind the bus driver’s seat.

I remember how much I hated to eat lunch in the school cafeteria. Sometimes there were no empty tables to sit at, (I usually ate lunch by myself. I didn’t have any friends to save me a seat).
Well, when there was a vacant seat, (it was usually in the middle of a bunch of kids), as much as I hated it, I would attempted to take one of those seats because there was no where else to sit, but the kids always told me they were “saving” the seat for someone. Of course I knew that wasn’t true. As I walked away, I heard those kids snickering and sometimes I would feel a piece of food being thrown at me.

I remember asking my teacher, the one I had before lunch, if I could sit in her room and eat my lunch. She had the same lunch period as I did, so there was no class in that room at my lunch period. I told her that I wanted to do my homework for her class while I ate. Mrs. White was very nice and she told me it was fine, but she knew the real reason why I wanted to eat lunch in her room. She was a very sweet woman. Sometimes I don’t know what I would have done without Mrs. White’s help.
I was so happy when I only and a month and a half of school left before graduation! Yes, I was happy that I was no longer going to have to endure the daily torture that I had been going through and I was thrilled about it! I was most certainly looking forward to graduation day; the day I was going to surprise everyone! Yes, it was going to be a day that nobody would ever forget! A day when all those who tortured me would pay for what they did to me!
Graduation day came! I made sure not to forget my “special” item.
I was so glad that my name began with an A. That made it possible for me to receive my diploma and I am happy to say that I also received a scholarship as well!

When my name was called, I walked up to the podium. I heard my mom and my relatives clap, along with the teachers and administrative staff, but not one of the students clapped. It didn’t matter to me though. I knew that nobody else was going to clap that day for the other students either, not after my plan was carried out.
I remember that I was supposed to give an acceptance speech about receiving my scholarship. I made a very short speech, then I partially unzipped my graduation robe and reached in my shirt pocket to pull out my “special” item. Needless to say, I got some very strange looks from my “fellow students, not to mention the audience.
The principle and a councilor walked up to me as I started to unfold the item in my hand.
They sat back down.
I remember looking into the faces of my torturers. They were looking at me, snickering.
I cleared my throat and started to talk about my school life. I talked about the cruelty and humiliation that I suffered at the hands of my “fellow” students. I then proceeded to name each student who hurt me, who made of me and laughed at me.
You would not believe the looks on all of the students’ faces, not to mention the ones I named and not to mention the look of shock on the audience’s and faculties faces!
I have to say, the look of shock and humiliation on the faces of those who tortured me was priceless!
You know at the same time, I felt myself almost feeling sorry for them.
The principle started to walk up to the podium in an attempt to stop me from continuing to read off the names on my list. I noticed that Mrs. White and one of the councilors’ stood directly in front of him. Needless to say, he sat back down in his seat. I just smiled and kept on reading. The students, well, they just sunk down in their seats.
I finally finished reading my list and promptly walked off the stage. I met my mother behind the big black curtains that were behind the stage.
I listened behind there as the Graduation ceremony continued. I noticed as the students’ names were called, I didn’t hear the enthusiasm from the audience or the other students that usually happens at Graduations.
I had a pretty good view of the stage and the stairs that led to the floor. I watched as each and every student descended those stairs after accepting their diplomas. Not one of those students were smiling; I was smiling though.
That was 15 years ago. I decided that when I came home from graduating from college, I was going to apply to the school board in an attempt to obtain a position at the very same school where I endured so much abuse. I am now a teacher there. I have been there now for about 10 years.

The story of how Leena Ann Maples humiliated the Graduating class of 1995 is still circulating the halls; not as much as it used to, but it still finds itself on the lips of students, as well as the faculty members.
I am happy to report that after that historic graduation day, the very next school year, the school board enacted a policy that if anybody bullied anybody else for anything and I mean anything, then the bully or bullies were to write a term paper on why they felt it necessary to hurt and humiliate a fellow student and then they had to read it in front of the entire school.
I heard that while I was away at college, a no bullying policy was enacted. I understand that there were only two incidences of bullying, generating two term papers written by two bullies during the entire four years while I was gone.
During my 10 years of teaching at my old school, there has been only one incidence of bullying, which I just happen to see and needless to say, I stopped it immediately. I remember that incident happened my very first year of teaching. I still have that term paper and now that bully, well, he is a teacher now and he and I both advocate against bullying in school.

While this story is fiction, sadly, bullying still continues in our schools. I believe that there should be educational programs set up in each and every school to raise awareness of this age old problem. I also believe that the school boards all over this country should enact strict policies against bullying as well. I think it’s sad that such laws should even have to be made because students should not be bullying each other, but as long as this problem exist, well, something has to be done.
I believe that each and every student has the right to be happy during their school experience and each student has the right to be able to attend school in peace.
Melody Dempsey
Author of The Forest Portal

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The benefits of English Class!

I remember as a child, I wanted to be an English Teacher. As I grew older, my interst turned towards the Health Care field.
English was always my favorite subject all through my school years, even college. I have to say, the benefits I reaped from my English classes, espcially from my college English classes, most certainly helped me in writing my college term papers and my book.
I also believe that my experience with writing the many term papers in college was a great benefit to me, especially with doing the research for my book. I used the research skills, ( I did a LOT of research during my college years), to delve into life in Florida in the 1900,s. My main focus was to have an accurate description of what the homes were like, what kind of furniture was used, what it was made of. I also researched what a typical small town in Florida may have looked like in 1908. I wanted to have an insight to that time period so that my readers could visualize the characters' surroundings.
Now some of the surroundings, such as the olfactory, (smells), and taste of food described in my book, came from some foods I experienced when I was first married. My husband's grandmother and great aunt were a couple of very old fashion ladies and made everything homemade. They would grow and can their own vegetables, they made cakes and cookies from scratch. Those two old ladies could cook! Their mother, (my husband's great grandmother), was a young mother back in the early 1900's. She taught the two sisters how to cook and according to my husband's grandmother, her nor her sister ever strayed away from what they were taught as children. It was truely a blessing that they didn't! I looked forward to going to my husband's grandmother's for dinner. Her and sister's cooking could not be matched! They are gone now and I not only miss their cooking, but I miss them. They were two wonderful people. Other environmental surroundings described came from my reading experiences and movies I viewed thoughout various times in my life. I also used quite a bit of my imagination.
I came up with my characters from different people I met troughout my life. I thought about some of the physical and personality traits that interest me about some of these individuals and used them, although most of the make up of my characters were born out of pure imagination! I remember as a child, when I read a book, I would always place myself in the world of the characters I was reading about. As a child and even a teen, I never really thought about just how well written those books were. I just knew that I was enjoying them at the time I was reading them. As I grew older, I started to appreciate just how wonderful those Authors' were for their thoroughness and just how well written their work really was. You see, I never forgot those stories.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Blurbs- What inspires and drives a writer to create?

I feel that things that happen in a person's life can be a definate driving force in that individual's life for writing. I know that not everyone can articulate well in the written word, but I beleive everyone has a story in them. For those who are able to articulate well on paper, then they are truly blessed. I believe that Authors find inspriation for their creations through something that may have happened in their lives, whether it comes from a tragic incident, a happy event, a trip they may have been on. Inspirations also come from books that people read and films that they may have seen even from a dream or dreams they may have had. My inspiration for writing The Forest Portal came from books I read and movies that I had seen. I would reflect on what I had read and seen and I developed my own creations. I have also been inspired by my own sense of a need to put my thoughts on paper.
I never had the support of my family growing up. I had three brothers and two sisters, all of whom are intellectuallly challenged. It wasn't that they were mentally challenged, except for one of my older brothers, but my oldest sister, my younger sister and my other older brother had no interest in writing, art, music or anything having to do with culture or anything else that was intellectually stimulating. I did not expect my mentally challeneged brother or my youngest sister, who was six at the time, to take interest in what I had to say, but the others, well...
I had no support from them or my parents because they, (my parents), were to busy fighting when they were not working. Anyway, I wrote a lot about my feelings towards my family when I was a teen. Most of the time though, I wrote fictional stories about Sci/Fi adventures and mysteries. I loved the places where my writing took me. It was a great escape for me and that kept my encouragement up for continuing with my stories. That was most certainly the driving force behind my writing as a teen.
I kept them up until I got a job, then between school and work, I was not able to write as much.
As an adult, I didn't write for a number of years. I started to take interest in my writing again sometime before I went back to college. ( I went back when my children were older).
I was happy to start The Forest Portal. ( I actually finished the first draft before starting school).
I started the book with no problems at first. During creating the first 5 chapters, the story moved along pretty smoothly until I reached the middle of chapter six. I didn't suffer from writers block, not at this point, but I really had to reflect on what the surroundings may have looked like in an old wooden house in 1908. I wanted to be as descriptive as possible so my readers could see and feel those surroundings themselves, not to mention the importance of me seeing and feeling those surroundings.
When I did suffer from writer's block, I would walk way from my work, go do something else, like housework, take a walk, watch tv, or take a drive.
Most of the time I could go back the next day and continue with the work on my book with no problems. I was lucky not to have a lot of writer's block issues while writng The Forest Portal. I never lost my inspiration to write because I really enjoy creating stories. I am happy to say that my husband and two daughters are a great source of support for me. It's comforting for me to know that my husband and children take a great interest in culture. My oldest daughter is studying the Fashion World where as youngest daughter has a desire to write, just like her mom! My husband, he is a History buff.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Road to Writing.

This novel, The Forest Portal tells the story of 3 teens who end up 100 years in the past. They start in present day, June, 2008. They end up, quite by accident in the year 1908, in the month of June. While they have the ability to come back to their own time at will, they cannot resist the temptation of going back in time as they probe deeper and deeper into the past. Through their continued probing and interference, the teens not only create chaos in their own lives, but in the lives of those they touch in the past.

As a child, I always had a very vivid, wild imagination. I think sometimes it came from a feeling of loneliness, although I had three sisters and two brothers, none of whom had intellectual interest, so there really wasn't any moral support for me from them. My parents were also very busy.
I remember when I would color in my coloring books as a child, I used to make up stories in my mind from the pictures that I would color.
It was always a thrill for me when my grade school teachers would want us to write a short story on any subject of our choosing. I remeber writing a comedic story in third grade about a dog and a very mean cat. My classmates and me had to read our stories out loud to the class and I remember mine won first prize! Wow, the Blue Ribbon! That meant so much to me! That was my very first inspiration for the desire to write. I wrote more stories throughout my childhood, but as time went by and school responsiblities became more demanding,I just stopped writing my stories for a few years.
I started to write more seriously when I was around fourteen years old. I remember my mom would ground me, sometimes for a month at a time, which was not warranted, especially for a month at a time, but she always took pleasure in making me miserable. Actually, with all the time I had on my hands, I would read books, watch Mystery movies, Thrillers and Science Fiction movies and TV shows. Many times I would take pen and paper in hand, (there were no home computers in those days) and I would reflect on what I had watched and read and write my own material.

I started The Forest Portal, basically because I wanted to put myself up for a challenge. I remember I was at work. I did private duty nursing at the time and my patient was taking a nap. I had finished my work, so I decided to sit down and read a magazine. I got bored with that, picked up my work notebook and started to create a story. It was a story that grew over a span of two years. When I sat down that first day, I really didn't think that I would finish my creation due to time, but my mind kept going back to what I had written on that notebook. I had written about five or six pages that day. Well, I kept adding to the story over time. The more I wrote it, the more interesting it became for me and I was motivated to keep writing in my spare time. I actually started the book in 2003. After many, many revisions, I started to entertain the idea for publication. I talked to my kids and husband about it and they said I ought to send my manuscript in to some publishers and see what happens.

My daughter had to have back surgery in December 2003. Needless to say, my attention was on my daughter and what she was going through. She did well and by March, 2004, she was able to go back to school. I decided at that time to pursue advancement in the Medical Field. I went to collage and three years later, I graduated. I was not able to spend a lot of time on my book back then, as school was very demanding, but I did manage to put some time into it. There were other distractions that had a tendency to keep me away from my writing. Sometimes it was a family crisis, finding time to write, sometimes just being a mom, other times, I was tired and couldn't get the motivation to sit down and right, sometimes illness played a part, what with colds, stomach flu, although, thank God I wans't sick very often.

My book was born out of pure imagination. The ideas came from my past reading experiences and out of movies I enjoyed, not only as a child, but as an adult.
The title of my book, The Forest Portal, was actually my second choice in for the name of my book. The origional title was Time Trees. When I signed the contract with my publisher, (Publish America), there were some suggestions that were optional, such as title changes, revisions, book cover ideas, well actually, we had to give ideas for the book cover. Well, I started to rethink the title. I recruited the aide of my family. Needeless to say, the ideas for my book's title became the forefront on everybodys mind. My husband actually was the one who came up with the title that I chose to use. I sent in my new title, along with the idea I wanted for the book cover. The book cover that was actually produced only had some of my idea in it, but as my contract stated, the Author's idea may or may not be used for the book cover. It would be up to the pulisher what may be used. Actually, my idea was used, but the only thing they left out was a picture of the kids walking through two trees, but they know best and I was very happy with the way they did my book cover. The book cover picture has a mystery about it, which is suitable for the story behind that book cover.
I was very excited to have Publish Amercia as my publisher. The contract they sent me was very "user freindly" so that made the process of getting things started on getting my book into print that much easier.
I have to say, I was unsure of even getting published. Frankly, I, like any other new Author, especially with their first book, was actually half expecting to get a rejection letter. I actually submitted my manuscript to four publishers. I had two get back to me before Publish America, but they wanted me to pay them to publish! Well, since I am not by any means, rich, I most certainly did not want that. Besides, they were self publshing companies. The other wanted me to pay them $11,000!!! Agghhh! No, don't think so! I'm a working girl!
I remember the day when I got the call from Publish America telling me that they wanted to publish my book! That was a life changing day for me!