anxiety, Uncategorized

Bullying – No Way

Here in Australia it is March 16. That is Bullying- No Way Day. 

Bullying has been around forever; we all know that. However, with the advent of social media, it seems to have achieved a far greater impact on our young people.

Perhaps it is the anonymity of the Internet that inspires people to be so vile and cruel. Kids are being made to feel worthless and unwanted even as they sit in their own homes. Every time they look at the screens of their phones, tablets, laptops, or computers they are seeing messages deliberately crafted to wound and destroy confidence.

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Take a Stand

This is a scourge on our society. Nobody deserves this sort of treatment. When I read about young people taking their lives because of bullying, it breaks my heart. Another young life wasted – before it has had a chance to blossom into full potential.

This is unacceptable. We must all stand up and speak out against bullying. However much our voice shakes, we must speak out.bullying-3096216_1920 copy

Gummshoes

My contribution to speaking out comes in the form of a series of books for young readers (7-12). I call it Gummshoes because the main character’s name is Frankie Gumm. He and his best mate, Olly, have been the victims of bullying for most of their school lives. They know how it feels and, so, they set out to protect younger students from the school bullies, the Boneheads. They also solve weird and mysterious happenings at their school. They are detectives, gumshoes – but because Frankie’s name is Gumm, they have made themselves Gummshoes.

There are two books so far in the set.

Mission #1: The Nobbled Numbskull where the school’s star soccer player, who is also the chief Bonehead, is being prevented from playing. The boys set out to find the person who is sabotaging the team effort.

Mission #2: The Medal Muddle where the latest craze, MODO (Masters of Deimos One), is sweeping through Carson Road School. Everyone is collecting the cards and medals. Excitement is everywhere. But something weird is also happening. Nits, the school bully, wants to be friends with Frankie and Olly. He is actually being nice. Will Nits become a Gummshoe – or will Frankie and Olly become Boneheads

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The books are available through www.gummshoes.com if you live in Australia or through Amazon for overseas readers.

My aim in writing the books is to develop in the readers self confidence and resilience. At one point in the second book, Frankie says to himself,

“Just because they’re loud, doesn’t mean they’re stronger than you are.”

We have to teach our kids that they are loved, that they are valuable, and that they are strong enough to deal with any nasty people who may try to make them feel otherwise. Nobody has the right to make someone else feel less valued.

Each and every child deserves to be able to enjoy a life unthreatened. 

 

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Please, do not stand by and watch or allow bullying.

SPEAK UP!



 

 

 

 

 

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anxiety, books, productivity

Mission # 2

Mission? What mission?

My mission at the moment is to write the next book in my anti-bullying series, Gummshoes.

After the holiday break, it is always a little difficult to get back into my normal routine of writing every day. Whether what I write is terrific or complete rubbish, I write every day.

I am a writer and that is what I do. It’s what I want to do. It’s what I have to do. On the days when I can’t be at my computer, I feel somewhat uncomfortable, almost guilty, because I haven’t accomplished anything. My mind then goes into overdrive and I don’t sleep well. Writing is part of me.

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This Mission:

The Gummshoes series was inspired by a television programme I saw one day when I had the ‘flu.  There I was, reclining miserably on the couch, when two young men were being interviewed. You can watch it here.

These two young guys had experienced bullying themselves and decided that they would stand up for younger kids who were being targeted. In one simple act of inviting those younger kids to sit with them at lunch, they began a movement which has now spread across the USA and into other countries as well.

In the past year or so, a young lady called Natalie Hampton has also taken a stand against school bullying. She started Sit with Us.  This is an app that allows kids to find students at their school who are happy to sit with them at lunch times so that they are not isolated.

Inspired by these wonderful young people, I wrote the first Gummshoes mystery.

Gummshoes

Gummshoes is a secret group created by Frankie Gumm (Get it? Frankie Gumm – Gummshoes?) and his best friend Oliver Mollison. The two boys have been bullied for most of their school lives. Now that they are in sixth grade, they have developed some strategies for coping with the bullies. when they notice a younger student, Alex (Binka) Binkowski going through the same problems that they had to deal with, the boys decide to take care of him. As they investigate interesting goings-on at their school, they teach Binka how to be resilient and feel more confident.

In Mission # 1 – The Nobbled Numbskull the boys have to figure who is sabotaging the school’s star soccer player. How will Carson Road win the pennant if Jon Nittleson can’t play?

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Mission #2

In the story I am writing now, Frankie and Olly are confused when the school’s biggest bully, Nits, decides to hang out with them. This is a scary, yet intriguing situation for them. With the whole school collecting cards and tokens for a new game, Binka notices that something weird is happening with a display of medals in the Principal’s office.

This something for the Gummshoes to investigate, but will they involve Nits in the sleuthing or not? The boys are quite enjoying the thrill (and power) of being befriended by him.

Will Nits become a Gummshoe, or will Frankie and Olly become bullies?

Stay tuned for the answers.

 

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Olly                                                                                   Frankie

 

 

 

 

 

productivity, Uncategorized

Why I Write Clean Stories.

A Nice Clean Story

I write nice clean stories.  There is no gratuitous violence, no swearing and no (gasp!) sex.  My stories are directed at young readers aged about 8 to 12 years. My characters are ordinary kids. They have no special powers. They are not dealing with any fantasy creatures or beings. All they have to work with is their powers of observation, wits and innate curiosity.

Am I Old-fashioned?

Now, I guess it is old-fashioned of me to be determined to keep my stories clean. There are several people who keep saying to me that the kids of today don’t want to read about ordinary kids, that they want to read about mystic fantastic realms where demons, witches and warlocks rule and that, if I want to be successful as an author, I will need to write about those things.

I have no problem with the authors who write in the fantasy genre.  I enjoyed the Harry Potter stories too but I read them as an adult not as a child. However, I do believe in the ordinary kid – the kid who can struggle with a difficult situation and find a way through it without benefit of a magic wand.

Are Today’s Kids Really That Different?

When I was a kid, about a hundred years ago, I wanted to be one of the Famous Five or Nancy Drew’s offsider.  I wanted to have adventures and to have to solve mysteries.  I did like the story to be puzzling and exciting,  but I didn’t want to have the socks scared off me – maybe just a little bit, but not completely off!

It makes me wonder if today’s kids are really so much different.

Save Our Imagination

I have written before about the downturn in imagination in today’s children.  It is something that really worries me.  It worries me that children can’t think of anything to play unless they have equipment of some sort. It worries me that they can’t come up with any ideas when they are asked to write a story….no matter how much scaffolding is provided for them.  It worries me that they don’t know how to build a cubby house using cardboard boxes and tree branches.  It worries me that they have little in the way of risk assessment skills.  I think children need to be able to do all these things if they are to grow into adults who can cope with the everyday world.

Face the World as a Problem Solver

We rarely have to face a wand-wielding wizard but we often have to solve problems using whatever wits we have been given. Cleverness often suffers in comparison to ‘coolness’.  Why I am not sure. I want children to know that being smart, inventive, ingenious, observant, logical, curious, adventurous is “way cool”.

So I will continue to write nice, clean stories about ordinary kids in the fond hope that there are parents out there who want their children to be inquisitive, observant and adventurous too.

You can find more information about my books here.