As many know, I am working on the second book of In the Shadow of the Cedar series. There will be a third. When I finished this series, I planned to move to adult fiction with a thriller/suspense novel. I’ve been rethinking that. I’ve decided to stay Young Adult with the Moonbow series. The need for uplifting, yet realistic, young adult fiction (which I hope I can provide) led to this decision. I’ve recently read two dismal novels for older teens. By dismal, I mean that there is an air of hopelessness permeating the books.
I am especially excited about turning the Moonbow series into young adult. The first book will be geared to the older end of young adult. I’m slightly apprehensive about the second book of the series because I change protagonists. I’m not sure how readers will respond to that. We’ll see.
But back to In the Shadow of the Cedar. The second book is entitled Clothed in Thunder. Sarah Jane deals with what the majority of children deal with at some point in their lives—bullying. She is a country girl going into a city school. After wearing shoes with worn-out soles, she’s happy to have sturdy, laced-up boots. The problem is that the city girls sneer at her new shoes.
How does Sarah Jane cope? Much better than I did! This scene is based on one of my real-life experiences. After we lived in France for three years, we returned to Ft. Hood, Texas. After attending schools on base for seven years, I entered the city school system of Killeen, Texas.
For three years, I had been relatively isolated. I did not know all the latest trends and fashions. Guess who got laughed at and teased? One of the other girls “accidentally” tripped me in P.E. I became so distraught, I literally became sick to my stomach. Having to face the laughter was too much. I stayed home (not faking illness because I was actually sick!).
Eventually, the principal insisted I come back to school. I did and I survived. I learned that bullies are after one thing—attention. Well, maybe two things. They are also trying to build their low self esteem.
So, what would I tell my younger self if I had the chance? What people think of you is not any of your business. Live for God. Focus on others. Forget self. Still things I have to remind myself from time to time.
J.K. Rowling said something interesting: Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Essentially when we are teased and bullied, we feel like failures. When we focus on things that matter—God, our families, our education—and quit worrying whether we are succeeding at getting others to like us (and I know of no one who is universally liked), we can travel the true road to success!
*And I know that often bullying escalates into physical abuse. This should never be tolerated. Adults need to stay informed!