Search This Blog

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finally! A Program That Allows Kids To Anonymously Report Bullying

160,000 KIDS SKIP SCHOOL EVERY DAY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT FEEL SAFE!                                   
                                              Is one of those kids yours?????

Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a Village” and I know that if we want to eliminate all aspects of bullying, and keep our kids safe, we need more than just a village, “It’s going to take our entire Country”.

As one, we are invisible, but together, we can Move Mountains. I am asking you to stand up and be heard before it happens to your child!

I was honored to receive a phone call today from Joe Bruzzese – He is the founder and CEO of Somehow, he had heard about me and my book, which features four extraordinary, physically challenged kids who are bullied. He told me he appreciated the things I was doing to help advocate and bring awareness to this horrific problem. He told me what I was doing was fantastic and he thanked me. Although I appreciate it, his thanks were not necessary.

After our phone call ended, I received a tweet from Joe that was sent to almost 2,000 followers. His tweet gave my name and said, “Take a look. This book is going to create change.”  I sure hope so, Joe. If I can empower one child or person through this story then hopefully, I have succeeded in making the world a little better for a child who may be physically challenged.

What I am doing is not special because I feel that every single person in our country should be doing the exact same thing. Joe is doing his part. He is being heard, he is yelling from the highest mountain. I strongly urge you to check out and read his reason for starting this organization.

Sprigeo was created to help kids by giving them a place to turn and report incidents of bullying anonymously without fear of retaliation. This is so, so past important and awesome!!!!

Below is an overview of what Sprigeo does:

THE VISION: restore the safe and secure feeling kids want to have when they go to school each day.

Action that leads toward the vision: giving kids a voice to talk about bullying, and report it in a safe way, without fear of retaliation.

HOW: For the first time, kids can go to a site ( at anytime and from anywhere with an internet connection, to send an anonymous bully report. The report travels instantaneously to the school principal in a secure email.

THE MEAT AND POTATOES: some schools have a bully reporting system that sends an email, but the trail and accountability ends there. Sprigeo adds another layer of accountability by taking the bully report and dropping it into an online database that schools can use to track incidents, note action taken toward resolution, and record follow up incidents.

Kids who bully count on using intimidation and the threat of continued violence to keep their victims from reporting. Sprigeo empowers all kids, the bystanders, and the targets, by giving them the ability to report bullying anonymously.

THE RESULT: kids who bully do not know who has reported them.

Sprigeo has another unforeseen component that adds to just how great this program is. Kids are not only reporting incidents of bullying, they are reporting weapons being on school grounds. This is a HUGE, HUGE step in preventing another Columbine.

This new outlet for kids is now being used in school districts in 8 different states. WE NEED IT IN ALL OF THEM! ALL 50 STATES!

Therefore, I am personally going to CHALLENGE YOU. Stand up and be counted! Help me and Joe Move Mountains! Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, go to your school district, go to your town meetings, your council members, the board of education, your congressman, or congresswoman, and tell them that this needs to be done. Demand that it be done! DO NOT take NO for an answer!!! If you do, your child may be the one who suffers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Paralympic Athletes ARE Role Models/Heroes in The Little Rednecks

I will eventually get around to discussing more writing stuff thingy's but today I'm gonna talk about athletes as role models and I wanna talk about it because it's something important regarding the main characters in my debut middle grade novel. I have never been keen on children using athletes as role models and my opinion is based soley on the current state of professional athletes, especially in the the NFL (National Football League). I love football and I have always been a loyal die-hard Cincinnati Bengals fan and it didn't matter if they were 2-14 or 16-0. With that being said, I may not always stay a fan if things don't change. I'm tired of picking up the newspaper and seeing that another Bengal player has been arrested. When is it going to stop? To me, a role model should be about the character of the person, not the persons althletic ability to play a kids game and make millions of dollars while doing it. It is mind-boggling to me just how many repeat criminals are employed by the NFL and these same criminals have become role models for children everywhere. When will the NFL realize that there are more important things in life than winning? When will they realize that playing in the NFL should be an honor, not a God given right? There is NO zero-tolerance policy in the NFL although they claim to have one. How can there be? It disgusts me to see children cheering and wearing Michael Vick's jersey. How can this man, a man who committed some of the most barbaric, heinous, and unforgivable crimes against something as helpless as a dog, be forgiven so easily in the name of winning. It doesn't matter that he supposedly paid his debt to society because there are some crimes that are just unforgivable, period! The NFL as well as the Eagles should be ashamed of themselves. In my opinion, Michael Vick should have been banned for life from ever playing in the NFL and he should never be allowed to own another animal for as long as he lives. He doesn't deserve either one. As far as I'm concerned, he lost that honor. If in fact the NFL had a zero-tolerance policy - Michael Vick should have been the poster boy to prove it. They had a chance to show the world that character is much more important than athletic ability or the almighty dollar and they blew it. I don't have children, but if I did, I would introduce my children to the Paralympics. These are the athletes that I would want my children to have as role models. To become a Paralympian or Olympian, you have to have more than just a God given talent - You MUST HAVE character. In 2010 I watched an interview with Stephani Victor and Alana Nichols. It was right after they had won the silver and gold medal in skiing. It was also the time when Alana Nichols learned for the first time that she had become the only Paralympian ever to win gold in both the winter and summer Paralympics but the one thing that I got from that interview was something that both women said. Stephani Victor had tears in her eyes and her voice shook. She said, "Right after my accident, I found skiing and the very first time I ski'd, Ill never forget it, I fell and my first reaction was to open up the seatbelt and stand up and pick my monoski up but I forgot that my legs were gone and that's the freedom skiing gives me. It doesn't make me think about my legs or what I don't have or being in a chair. Skiing makes me think about what I can do and that I'm free. My husband who was my coach gave me my first lesson. He said to me, "There's no such thing as disabled skiing." And that's what I want to tell anyone out there who thinks that disabled sports is seperate. It's not seperate, we have less to work with to accomplish the same task. In my mind that means more abled." Alana then spoke to the young people. She said, "It wasn't too long ago that I was falling down everytime but I got back up. What I would say to the young people that are just getting into skiing, is keep on going, don't give up. Just keep going."
These two women are the epitome of what a role model should be. They have character, heart, perserverance, and dedication and that's what makes a true Paralympian/role model.  To see these ladies in action as well other Paralympians go to  I promise, you will not be dissapointed and the next time your child picks an athlete/role model that makes you want to cringe, introduce them to the Paralympics. These are althletes who are truly worthy of the word "rolemodel"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Where I Got The Idea For The Little Rednecks

Let me start by saying that how I came up with the idea is not pleasant. In fact, it's downright heartbreaking and it made me cry.
I have a niece, she is now 10 years old and her name is Sarah. Sarah was born with a hearing defect that left her almost deaf and she has to wear hearing aids. This little girl is the most caring and thoughful person I've ever known. When the Tsunami hit Japan, she asked her mother to help her bake cookies so she could sell them and send the money to the people of Japan. Every time a disaster hits our country or someone else's, my nieces first thought is, "How can I help them?" and she springs into action, whether it's making cookies or creating buckeye necklaces. She then takes everything she's made and sets up a table wherever she can find people.

On the day that I got the idea, I was at a family cookout. Sarah has two cousins and the three of them were in the backyard. The two cousins were whispering to each other and Sarah's father saw them. He told the girls that it wasn't polite to whisper in front of his daughter. The youngest of the two cousins looked at him and with a snotty look on her face said, "Why? It's not like she can hear us anyway."

Sarah was 7 or 8 at the time and she was totally oblivious to what had just happened. All she wanted to do was hang out with her cousins and it broke my heart. At that moment, I knew this was a story that I had to write. It was a story that needed to be told. I went home and immediately started doing research on bullying. I was shocked by some of the things that I learned. For instance: UNICEF reports show that 16% of able-bodied children are bullied compared to 82% of children with disabilites. That number is horrifying and that is why I wrote The Little Rednecks.

This is not acceptable to me nor should it be to anyone else. Bullying is a major problem and not just in this country. It is a worldwide epidemic and it must stop. If I can empower one child or person through this story then hopefully, I have succeeded in making the world a little better for a child who may be physically challenged.     

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Judging Books By Their Cover And Title

Okay, today I want to talk about book covers and titles. So I will start with a few questions for you. Do you personally judge a book by its cover? Do you judge a book by its title? If you do or have done those things, have you found out later that you had made a mistake, whether it be good or bad. Meaning that you bought the book because of those things and you wished you hadn't or you didn't buy the book because of those things and you later wished you had.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty of this post and the method to my madness for bringing it up. Take a look at the book cover for my debut middle grade novel and then look at the title. What is the first thought(s) that came to your mind? Did you judge my book by its cover? Did you judge my book by its title? If you answer yes, that's okay. I think the majority of readers do.
I'll start with the cover itself. The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies is about four physically challenged kids and the bullying they face due to their disability. Their adventure takes place inside an abandoned Coal Mine and the entire story takes place in a town called Murray City, Ohio. At one time, Murray City was the largest Coal Mining town in the United States. The title of my book is about a stereotype and the damage it can cause. My title is controversial. I know that. If you look up the definition of a redneck on Wikipedia, the first thing you see is the defamatory description. Over the years, society has taken something good, something to be respected, and turned it into something ugly. Jeff Foxworthy made millions of dollars from doing it. I'm hoping to change that. So, I'm going to give you the definition of the word and its origin.
"The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) and other miner's unions assigned both the term redneck and its symbol, the red bandana, in order to build multiracial unions of white, black, and immigrant miners in the strike-ridden coalfields of northern and central Appalachia between 1912 and 1936. The use of redneck to designate "a union member" was especially popular during the 1920s and 1930s in the coal-producing regions of southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania where the word came to be specifically applied to a miner who belonged to a union or a striking coal miner. It is almost a given that the word "redneck" originated in strike-ridden coalfields to mean "union miner" independently of its use in the deep south. Clearly, the best explanation of redneck to mean "union man" is that the word refers to the red handkerchiefs that striking union coal miners in both southern West Virginia and southern Colorado often wore around their necks or arms as a part of their informal uniform."

Okay, so there you have it. The bottom line is: I am a proud Appalachian Redneck and my next to the oldest brother worked in the Blue Diamond Coal Mine in Kentucky. When I use the term redneck, it is used with the utmost respect for a designated group of people who worked hard, and more often than not, sacrificed their own lives in order to provide for their families. There is absolutely no shame in that.

As you can imagine, the title of my book has incited quite a few debates with my friends as well as author peers, and some of those conversations got a little heated. I was told that readers will be turned off by the title and walk right by my book in the bookstore. I was told that it is a derogatory word and that I shouldn't use it. I had a woman state that if she saw my book in a store, she would not even look at it because it has the word "redneck" in the title. I've had several people tell me that I need to change my title. I am not a followerer and I never have been. I've never given in to peer pressure, and I'm not going to start now. Those close-minded comments that I listed above are the exact reason I wrote this book and that is why I will not change the title.

I'm going to paste the blurb for my book below. Please read it and afterward, you be the judge. In parting: If you judge a book or a person by their cover, and in my case the title, you just may be missing out on something really special and that is the real shame.

The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies -

Ten years ago, Arthur “Southpaw” Alexander feared for his granddaughter’s safety when he used magic to hide a mysterious silver case inside the #7 Coal Mine. The events surrounding that fateful day will be revealed on his granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday and he is powerless to stop it.

Joee Alexander, Stump, Wheels, and Sarah are physically challenged and that’s not all the four best friends have in common. They’re bullied on a daily basis, they’ve unknowingly been linked to each other since birth, and they all possess magic abilities they don’t know they have.

Over the course of five days, their lives are changed forever and it all begins when they find an old map, which reveals a maze of secret tunnels, leading to the #7 Coal Mine. Unable to resist an adventure, they join forces to find what they think is hidden treasure.

As the days fly by and the clues unfold, they learn the truth about the mysterious case and their magic powers along with a prophetic destiny that will pit them against a town full of bullies, a corrupt banker who isn’t what he seems, and Maulick, a man so evil, he cannot possibly be from their world. 

The Little Rednecks is about the difficulties physically challenged children face. It highlights the problem with stereotypes and shows bullying at its worst. It is a story about heart and dedication, and the friendship, dreams, and hopes of four physically challenged kids who prove that they really are like every other kid their age.     

To review the full document on Wikipedia -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Very First Blog - EVER!

Okay, so here goes. I'm new to this blog thingy but I'm gonna give it a shot. I would like for it to be a place of collaboration, thoughts, and ideas on anything that has to do with writing or not :)
I'm gonna talk about the road I've travelled and what it took for me to get published. One of the things that I noticed the entire time I was teaching myself how to write a novel was that I had a very hard time finding examples of pages that were laid out with the proper format. Sure you can find bits and pieces all over the place, and tons, and tons, and tons of advice but then you have to try and put it all together. So, that being said, one of the things I will do, is show actual example pages from my own novels with explicit instructions on how I did it. I wish someone would have done that for me. I haven't yet figured out how to show example pages on here and I'm not sure it's even possible. If not, you may have to swing over to my Web site to see them. They will be there for sure.... Easy web address...

In addition to those types of topics, I'm also going to talk about the steps it has taken me to get to where I am now --- anticipating the debut release of my middle grade novel in e-book form from Fantasy Island Book Publishing to be followed by the print edition.
My writing career began as a screenwriter, which I still am and still do. As a matter of fact, I'm a little screwed up when it comes to writing. When I get an idea for a story, I write it as a screenplay first. If I like it, then I do a reverse adaptation of the screenplay and turn it into a novel. Most writers do it just the opposite. They write a great book and then someone else turns it into a movie - See, I told you I was a little screwed up :)
I will also discuss where I am in writing the 2nd book in the series and if that's not enough, I will be featuring author interviews to keep things interesting.

I will forewarn you though, I have a wicked sense of humor. All good though, no bad stuff.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my gibberish and welcome to my Blog Thingy :)