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I feel like I am being called to write. And while it is fun to write about sexy men and innocent girls getting jiggy wit it, that may not be all that I am meant to do with my abilities.

You may have noticed that Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom had an undercurrent of living with bullying, and how to try to find your place as a person beyond it. If you missed that, then obviously you have led a charmed life, because I feel like everyone experiences it at some level some time.

I experienced bullying since I started school. Back then it was brushed off as teasing. While it got better in high school and college, I still experienced it, even as an adult. But episodes are fewer and farther between. I have a specific experience at one of my places of employment that I can’t forget. And she got written into a story. So did all the others. Because that is what writers do.

“ Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
 Harvey Fierstein

Bullying touches every one of us. Either you have been bullied, you have bullied, or you have been a witness to it. Yet, until recently, it wasn’t talked about. It was just like acne. It was something that just naturally happened to you, that you were forced to live through.

Even now, my viewpoint can shift like an empty swing in a strong wind: Are we meant to be left to survival of the fittest, as happens in the animal kingdom? Or are we as humans more evolved than that? Are we meant for more? What would the world look like if we all offered each other a hand up instead of pushing those we view as weaker down?

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
– W.C. Fields

Ginny’s story is the first of three stand-alone books I have planned that will illustrate three different women and how they deal with the bullying and the after effects…badly. Because, let’s face it, that is more interesting to read. And you may find it cathartic.

(For those of you who have read Troll Gurl, know that I will eventually publish a sequel, but that is not one of the future books I speak of here.)

But I want to point out very clearly that I have taken the (semi) healthy approach and chosen to express my own feelings in writing. I don’t want to leak too much about my upcoming stories. But you need to know that just because a character in a book may use violence to deal with the situation, even if it is blowing up a witch, you should never do that in real life.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

The characters in my books feel very alone, isolated. I want that to feel relatable, especially if you currently know or have known in the past the symptoms of anxiety and depression that feel as though they are draining your soul. But Ginny, and the others, all find SOMEONE they can relate to, someone who reaches out a helping hand for them.

I allowed bullying DEFINED ME for 38 years.

I want better for you.

I want you to know that you are not alone. That is why I would like to list a few organizations who can assist if you or a friend or family member is in a time of need.


NOTE: I have not personally used any of these organizations.

The Mighty

This may be the best suicide prevention article I have ever read.


This site was suggested to me by an author friend. This is a movement started by an awesome young girl named Belle who has her own blog called Belle’s Beastly Book Blog. There is a great video on there where great authors, many of whom I have met, tell their deeply personal stories of bullying and their journey since. I am not there yet. Maybe, someday, but not now. I tell my stories in tiny bits in my books and disguise them as fiction.

Bullies Keep Out

I stumbled across this site on accident one night and it seemed like fate was pointing me to it. I found the video featuring Michael Raymond-James, who I absolutely love. I liked him on True Blood, Once Upon a Time, and Terriers. So much so, that I based the character of Josh Tucker on him in the Riley Sisters books.

And then I decided I needed to speak out about bullying.

Do you see now how this felt like cosmic intervention?

It Gets Better

I had to include this organization because I just love their name. And they are doing some great work. They are geared toward LBGT youth. But I think even if you don’t fit into one of those categories if you poked around their website, there is plenty of helpful information.

As always, if you somehow stumbled on this page and you are having thoughts of suicide, even ones you think are casual, please Please PLEASE call:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Boy, do I wish I could have just Googled that number and had it at my fingertips when I was young.

But I am living proof that it gets better.

We just need the bullies to keep out.

Because I’m an author against bullying.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Supporting A Candidate (2008)

I tend to obsess about things. Usually they last a few months, and then they pass. Four years ago I was obsessing about Barack Obama. Here was this handsome, intelligent man who wasn’t from a privileged background, up against (with all due respect for his being a veteran) an old fogey. Obama was sharp, well-spoken, and promised us all healthcare. I could listen to him read the phone book any day.  He was my candidate.

2008 Campaign Sticker

I had never really cared about politics much in the past. In 2004, I considered volunteering to help Kerry get elected. But I didn’t. I seriously did not believe George W. Bush had a shot of getting re-elected. I learned that lesson the hard way.

So, in 2008, as I was all hopped up on Obama goofballs, I volunteered to help his campaign. I must say, as my obsession waned closer to the election, it was harder and harder to pick up the phone and call people. Where my obsession had made me brave, the lack of it was filled once again with my anxiety. But I even manage to knock on doors on three volunteer shifts, something I never in a million years thought I could do.

I also worried about so openly declaring my opinion on something as big as the presidential election. I mean, what do I really know about who would be best to balance a budget or handle foreign policy. But I believed Obama was an intelligent man who believed the same way in most things that I did. I realized I didn’t have to know the right answers myself, I just had to support the candidate that I thought would make the right decision at the right time.

Obama at a campaign rally in Detroit, 9/28/2008 (Photo credits: ME, baby)

So, I put an Obama/Biden yard sign in my yard. (Even though I have to admit that I often misread it as Osama Bin Laden.) I put a magnet on my car, but it got lost at the car wash. When I was pretty sure Obama might win, I put an actual sticker on my car. After all, I didn’t want to drive around for the next four years with a loser on my car. Both the yard sign and the sticker made me worry that people would vandalize my property because I was expressing what I believed. This was a really big worry to me. Now I have a story for you.

My husband and I went to the campground where his mother camps to watch their fourth of July fireworks in 2008. It is in Michigan, the state where I live. We left right after the fireworks concluded. Most campsites were still filled with groups of people partying it up. As we left, my husband was driving, my sister-in-law’s husband was in the passenger seat, and I was in the back seat. I was the only one that heard. As we drove through the campground, toward the exit, I heard it. A word that I thought everyone knew better than to use these days. I will only type it once, so there is no confusion. But I would never use it myself under normal circumstances. As we drove out of the campground, someone yelled “N*gger-Lover” at my car.

I was instantly hurt. And it wasn’t really logical why. I am a lil’ trailer trash white girl, so no one had ever used the “N” word towards me. I figured they must have yelled it because of my Obama sticker on my back window. Now, it is not the first time I have been picked on/teased/bullied–whatever the kids are calling it these days. That was called “every day” when I was in middle school. And maybe that was part of the shock. Adults calling other adults by a bad name. How juvenile. I also was thinking “What Rednecks” in my head, although most days I would consider myself a redneck, in the Jeff Foxworthy kind of way. I was hurt, shocked, surprised. It was just a deep hurt that hadn’t affect me that way in years. And that is just what the name-caller wanted to do to me.

Then I tried to dissect the term in my head. I thought “Hell ya, I am”. He is a black man I am supporting and voting for for president. I do love him. Why should it bother me? My vote will cancel out your vote, mother-f*cker! (And the history books show that it did.)

Maybe a month or two later, I was at the local bowling alley. When I came out, someone had vandalized my Obama sticker on my car. It looked as though they had run a key right through it diagonally. That didn’t hurt me, it just pissed me off. (Notice both incidents happened at locations where beer is served.) After that I thought I would remove it fairly promptly, maybe as a way to erase their hateful act. But instead, four years later, the sticker is still on my car, badly faded, the jagged edges have rolled up and created a window canyon through Obama’s face.

Peeling back window sticker, 2012

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you don’t support Obama, that is OK. It is alright to voice that. But please have some RESPECT.

Respect me and my opinion, my property, and President Obama.

Please don’t use racial slurs and destroy my stuff. I have held on to this incident for four years. The evil within people never ceases to surprise me.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

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