Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Nov. 12, 2009: Author, Emily Bryan!

Today I am delighted to have with us, author of fantastic historical romance, Emily Bryan! I met Emily at a Romantic Times Convention, after meeting her online and she is even more genuinely fun in person! Today she talks about her experience with a very real issue facing adolescents--bullying.

So come on in and pour you a steaming cuppa coffee or tea and visit here with my friend, Emily!

When Amanda asked me to share something unrelated to romance, but still relevant to women, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. I have to admit most of my childhood memories are happy ones, but something happened when I was in 5th grade whose injustice still stings.

I was an early bloomer. I was minding my own business and all of a sudden these bumps started growing on my chest. I ballooned up to a 36B in only a few months. How I envied my friends their flat chests.

And unfortunately, I drew the interest of a couple squirrelly little boys in my class who started chasing me home from school, trying to grab my new breasts. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents, but I finally complained to my teacher.

The next day, I was called into the vice-principal’s office. He grilled me with questions, demanding to know what I’d been doing to make those boys behave that way. I honestly hadn’t done a thing except grow. I still had a child’s heart trapped in my quickly-becoming-a-woman’s body. I was mortified. I left his office blowing snot bubbles, hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

The authorities wouldn’t help me. I didn’t want to tell my folks. They weren’t dealing too well with my change either. It had taken plenty of pleading to convince them I needed a bra instead of looser tops. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The next time those boys started after me, I didn’t run. I beaned them both with my metal lunch box in a place sure to make them forget all about being interested in my breasts. And they never bothered me again.

I have long since forgiven them. They were just hormones with feet and can’t be held to account for the insanity that is early male puberty.

But the vice-principal knew better. He made me feel ashamed of something over which I had no control. I can still feel my blood pressure rise every time I think about it. Young girls are bombarded with messages that scream out that they aren’t quite right, aren’t quite good enough. At a time when the adults in my life should have been helping me over the hurdle of my changing body, that educational professional seriously dropped the ball.

Fortunately, I’ve come to terms with the house of flesh in which I live and it’s just fine, thank you. How about you? Were there some times in your life when you overcame a problem and learned to feel good about yourself? Are there things you’re still working on?

Thanks for having me, Amanda. I’d like to invite your readers to enter my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST at .

I’m giving away a $100 B&N gift card on December 1st! I’d also love to give away a copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL, my newest release, to someone who leaves a comment here today!


What a lovely gift and just before the holidays to boot! Thank you for sharing this very sensitive experience with us, one I am sure most of us have felt at one time or another or know of someone who has.

Even though you were young, your resourcefulness shone even then;)  I love the lunchbox idea* These days, you probably could have filed an harrassement complaint. Though I'm not sure if that makes things better or worse for the student.  I'd love readers to weigh in on these questions presented.

Presently, at our high school we are dealing with an incident that reminds me of the mindset of your principal a bit--we're still awaiting a determination as to what is going to happen to thei administrator.



Amy C said...

Good morning Emily and Amanda :)

My mom loves your books :). She was thrilled to have met you at the RT signing in Pittsburgh!

Your question is a tough one to answer since, yeah, I suppose I will always have my issues with my childhood, none pleasant, but I look at my son and my husband and know that that was the past and I have them for my future to make it all not so bad. It was most difficult about the time my son was turning 9, but then I thought I am providing him a life that he will never, ever have to worry and experience the things I did at his age. And I am so terribly grateful for that, and I rejoice in that fact whenever I'm having a difficult time. I love my son and hope that I can continue to provide him a safe and happy place to experience life.

I hope I didn't sound like too much of a downer :). Life is good. What's past is past. I just have to remember to keep it there :).

Thank you for sharing your experience, Emily. It's not always easy to tell others about something that was traumatic.

Hugs to you and I hope you and Amanda both have a beautiful day today. I'm off to sell some calanders! LOL

Amanda McIntyre said...

Loved that you stopped in before heading off to work, Amy and for sharing your thoughts. Life is not always easy, but knowing we are supported and not alone in what we've experienced and how we survived to make things better is-I think-enormous encouragement for those perhaps experiencing such things.

I appreciate your comments!


Linda Henderson said...

I love holiday books and I'm very anxious to read your book. I think everyone has issues from their childhood that maybe they haven't dealt with. My biggest hang-over from childhood is my trouble with asking people for help or relying on other people. My father died when I was young and my mother had to go to work to support us. That made me self-reliant at a very young age. Now that I am older and have health problems requiring me to depend on others, it's really hard on me to give up control to others. Even family members. I'm so used to taking care of myself it's hard not to be able to all the time. I'm getting better about it, but it is a daily struggle that I deal with.

Genella deGrey said...

Em, your vice-principal was an @$$hat. I like to think we as humans have grown out of our own ignorance, then I hear something like that. I pray our children aren't surrounded by morons who can't see beyond their own noses.

I was a victim of prejudice beginning in the 4th grade. I went to a predominantly caucasian elementary school - and since I am Italian and Hungarian, I had darker skin than everyone else. Daily I lived with the hatred that came at me from every corner and I couldn't understand why everyone disliked me so much. I had a couple of brave friends, but when people wouldn't want to sit next to me in class or didn't want to share a locker with me for no reason, trust me, it left scars.

When I think about it, it still stings - but my feeling of pity coupled with the ignorance of people hurts just as much if not more.

Tolerance should be taught at home first, then reinforced at school - provided the parents and teachers are capable.


Genella deGrey said...

PS - I already picked up A CHRISTMAS BALL, so don't put my name in the hat.

EmilyBryan said...

Amy-I think we all have experiences that shape us, but we have the choice about whether that's for good or ill.

EmilyBryan said...

Amanda--Thanks for having me here today! I haven't told the lunch box story too often, but it helps that I felt empowered at the end. Not that I'm advocating violence, but some fights just have to be fought.

EmilyBryan said...

Linda--I think having trouble accepting help is a common issue. We all like to think we're capable and able to do for ourselves, but the truth is, we all need help with something. Thanks for sharing.

EmilyBryan said...

Genella--Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry that happened to you. People say children are cruel and they can be, but it's an acquired skill. They learn it from the adults in their lives.

Hope you love A CHRISTMAS BALL!

Genella deGrey said...

Thanks, Em - I'm sure I will.
Thanks, Amanda, for Coffee Talk Thursdays!

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Hey ladies, I am sorry I am so late! Boy does life get in the way!
First let me say that it is very nice to meet you Ms. Emily! And your story... wow. But very true. I was an early bloomer too. And did not understand why girls were mad and boys chased me. But then I learned the hard way by getting called easy and not even knowing what the heck that meant. Then I learned and went ballistic with those that said it. After the sh*t hit the fan... and I took control, Boys stopped. But it still leaves a scar.
But as I got older and wiser... realizing the past is just that - the past. Can not change it, it has helped shape me into the woman I am today. Strong, confident and able to speak my mind. And what touches me more than anything... I have passed those traits down to my 16 yr daughter... and as I watch her grow and stand up for herself in different ways... I smile outside as much as my heart beams inside.
That is why I went through what I did... to watch/teach and help her! God knows what He is doing! Thanks for sharing!!!
**big wave to Ms. A**
Hope all is well my sister friend!!!

Anonymous said...

No sexual harassment that I can remember in high school, but I did have trouble in biology class. I was a pretty good student . I noticed the girl next to me was copying my answers on tests. I tried my best to shield my work, but she wouldn't quit. I finally gave up and went to the teacher (Mr. Heart throb football coach). I explained my problem and he didn't say a word. The next time we had a test in class, he handed them out to everyone but me, then made me sit at a desk in the corner by myself. He made it look like I was the one cheating. I was embarrassed and a bit angry. He never said a word to me about any of it. In the end I decided he was a jerk. I had forgotten that she was teacher's pet for one thing. For another, I knew I was in the right. Moving me didn't hurt my grades, it actually helped me because I didn't have to fight to keep her eyes off my paper. He may have made me look bad, but her grades suffered.

EmilyBryan said...

Cecile--I think one of the reasons writers get so caught up in our character's backstories is that we know that's where who they are was forged. Same thing for real people. The battlegrounds are the playgrounds and the classrooms and the way home from school. Thanks for sharing your experience.

EmilyBryan said...

LibraryPat--No good deed goes unpunished, they say. But look on the bright side. You're still smart and she's probably still trying to skate by.

Sounds like your teacher and my vice-principal studied at the same school of inappropriate response.

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Mr. Graves, Principal was very kind and taught me a good life time lesson. A girl in class called me a name and I called it back to her.
We sat in front of him and he ask us what the word meant. We did not know. (WH...) He explained and told us to be careful of our words.
Children these days know that word as babies. I think that happened in fifth grade.

Unknown said...

Hi Emily :)
When I was growing up I was ashamed of being smart. I tried to not talk about books I was reading and tried to stop getting A's to try to fit in better. The school librarian sat me down and had a talk with me about 'letting my potential go to waste' ... I left that meeting with a resolve to take pride in myself and my talents. He really changed my life.
Thank you for sharing such a personal and thoughtful post.
All the best,

Amanda McIntyre said...

Some great insights being shared here, thank you to each of you. This is why I love this special blog day dedicated for such discussions.

I hadn't thought much about it before, Emily, but its quite true that it is the backgrounds of our characters in fiction writing that forges who they become as much as it is true in real life.

I can remember a time when my daughter came home and was in tears becacsue she'd been berated for being "too smart" by her "friends."
To the point where it became less kidding and more abusive. We had a long talk on that score and she is a teacher now in a middle school teaching reading and language arts to 8th grade students.

She called this morning to thank her dad and me for how she was raised. They'd just had an assembly at her school where the speaker grew up in an abusive home and where the parents told he and his brothers thet they were the reason for their divorce. Others things involved as well, but a horribly cruel childhood it sounds like this man lived, but how he managed to survive and now goes around speaking to students in high risk schools about what options they have available to them.

In some ways, good can come from the bad experiences that we have, I think.

I love what that librarian had to say, RK!


Unknown said...

A few months ago I made the decision to start loosing some weight, I had a baby a year ago today and two others before and my body never fully recovered. As I was walking to the track to do some jogging someone shouted "Hey Wilbur" I was mortified I wanted to run home and cry and im 27 years old. But I picked myself up and went to the track and did my laps. When I got home I did cry I was amazed and the insensitivity of some people. I never did go back to that track but I didnt let it stop me from my goal either. This was May it is Now November and Ive lost 62lbs.

EmilyBryan said...

Janet--When I used to teach 4th grade, I thought of that age as the last year of childhood. Now I think the age may be slipping lower.

EmilyBryan said...

RK--Three cheers for smart chicks!

Misty--62 pounds is life-changing! And as someone who's gained and lost the same 50 pounds several times, I know how much determination you must have. Congratulations!

Amanda--Thanks as always for having me here! See you in Columbus!

Sandy said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I had something similar happen to me when I was eleven.

For years, I held a grudge against my sister who was nine because she didn't help me. When I developed at the tender age of eleven, my thirtenn year old male cousin used to knock me to the ground and hold me down until he could feel my breasts. My sister would stand there crying and begging me to let him touch me so he wouldn't hurt me. I finally just got over that a few years back as far as she was concerned because I knew she was too young to know what was really going on.

With my cousin, that issue has never been settled mainly because he and a friend got me down on the kitchen floor of my grandmother's house and tried to pull my panties off. I was so panicky that I had the strength to get away, but I have never forgiven him.

Back when I was young, over sixty years ago, no one would have thought of telling anyone. Actually, I don't think a girl would have been believed back then. All I can think is that he would be in juvie now if it happened today. Which would be sad because he's actually a good guy.

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Amanda and everybody!

The winner of the signed copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL is . . . . (drumroll, please!) . . . LINDA HENDERSON!

Please contact me through with your mailing info!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our discussion and to Amanda for having me!