Online Bullies & Monsters Among The Writing Community

This is from one of my favorite writers and friend Nathan Tackett:

Ah yes, the internet – where spineless cowards bark with hateful intention. A terrible situation recently came to light where a fellow artist/author was berated with a vile string of ‘go kill yourself’ comments just because they used stock photos in their work. Guess what?! The individual actually DID try to take their life. Luckily, they didn’t succeed and are recovering.

Artists. We are a sensitive bunch and one can never tell what demons we may be fighting under the poetry and prose. I have seen several situations lately where artists have been trolled to horrible ends. We can do better.

Unfortunately, we live in an atmosphere were shit slinging is commonplace. Weak-minded creeps throw around words like ‘cuck’ and ‘snowflake’ and ‘nazi’ without a second thought. Somehow, this has become an accepted language of the new era. We can do better.

I fully support the first amendment, but I don’t support your right to be an asshole. Unfortunately, the school bully sits safely behind a virtual wall of anonymity. We can do better.

It’s time we start calling these slugs out. I support all of my artistic folk. Whether you’re a best-selling author, or an understood misfit. You can always sit next to me.

~ Nathan Tackett

 

Screenshot 2018-03-18 18.50.21

Thank you Nathan.

juliette

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Dear Vampire Maman Readers,

More and more I am hearing horror stories of gangs of bully trolls out of online writing groups terrorizing authors by leaving horrible reviews on Amazon and other online book dealers. They also troll blogs, and any social media outlet they can get to. They gang up and go in like blind fire ants killing anything in their way – never thinking about what they are doing.

I have seen this happen to more than one author in my circles.

Don’t get caught up in the group-think mean mind-set. Be an ADULT. Be a professional. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a horrible bad person. Don’t get all butt hurt over NOTHING. 

DON’T BE A MONSTER.

THINK before you post.

Stand up against the trolls who troll our fellow writers and artists.

WE CAN DO BETTER.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

the nathan tackett

For more about Nathan Tackett’s work CLICK HERE. And for a great short story from Nathan CLICK HERE.

Short Story Sunday: The Bully

The Bully

Sunday mornings on the deck with coffee, a cat purring in my lap, a dog at my feet and my beautiful family still asleep upstairs equals something good. It is all good.

Of course it wasn’t always that way. I think of my kids. I’ve done a lot to make sure they’re strong and secure. I make sure they’re not open to con artists and bullies. I made sure that they learned to stand up for the weak and those who are different.

So why am I musing on such lofty parenting goals? It is because their witty, confident, successful and good looking dad was once the kid who went to school in fear each day because of bullies. Nobody thought anything of bullies back then, when I was a kid. It was part of the school culture. But you know, even as a kid I knew it was wrong and one day it would be over.

It was over for me by the time I was 13. I went to high school and reinvented myself into a funny smart semi-popular kid.

My mind went back to fifth grade – in particular to one kid. Ronnie Martin was the personification of a bully. He was Goofus in Highlights Magazine. He was a sadistic little shit who never let down on reminding me that I was smaller and weaker than he was. Ronnie amassed an army of schoolyard thugs up against me. I was taunted, tripped, lied about, and shunned by other kids. I never knew why his one goal in life was to make my life a living Hell.

Once we got to high school nobody would put us with his bullshit. He faded into the background of kids nobody sees. I was free.

So what brought these memories back on a beautiful Sunday morning?

Last Friday on the way home my 15 year old son and I stopped by the hardware store to pick up some supplies for a leaking faucet. I still had on my suit (important meeting at the Capitol that day) sans the jacket. My son had on a band shirt and skinny jeans (no sagging mind you.) We were a typical father and son – only my son was an inch taller than me. When did that tiny six pound baby grow to be six feet tall?

I’d sent Tristan off to find a new front doormat while I went through the thirty thousand small bins of washers.

Standing in isle 34 I heard a voice that made me go cold.

“Here kitty kitty.”

In fronting of me was Ronnie Martin. He was older and larger than I remembered. The last time I remember seeing him was 45 years ago in Freshman English class when a couple of popular kids told him nobody put up with bullies in our high school and that they liked me. Now here Ronnie was a big slob with a gray ponytail, bad ink on his arms and a shit eating grin on his face.

I had the misfortune to be named Bartholomew. My mother called me by my full name. I went by Bart. Ronnie picked up on the mew.

Back in elementary school Ronnie and his minions would follow me making pathetic mewing noises and yelling “here kitty kitty.” Someone once filled my desk with cat litter. Ronnie told the teacher I’d done it to get out of work. She believed him. I had to clean it up and was sent to the office where the principal lectured me on my bad behavior. Such was my life for the next three years.

Ronnie made sure I was always picked last on teams and that I never had a place to sit on the bus. Now I look back on it I realize that I was his obsession. It just seems so sick and twisted now.

The bully looked me up and down in isle 34 like some creeper looking at a pretty girl in short skirt. “So I hear you’re some sort of big shot. What are you the gay secretary?”

He knew I owned a successful advertising and PR agency. He must have known.

Tristan came up with a doormat looking curious at the big rough looking Buba blocking my way.

I tried to pass and Ronnie blocked me. I looked him in the eye. “The fact that you bullied me does not define me. The fact that you are a bully defines you and will always define you.”

“You’re still a pussy Bart. You’ll always be a pussy.”

I said nothing but I knew he’d always be an asshole.

Putting my arm around Tristan I headed for the check out.

“What was that about Dad?” My son gave me one of those amused WTF looks.

“Just some loser I knew in elementary school.”

Tristan started to laugh in that way teen boys laugh. I had to laugh too.

 

~end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

WPAD SciFi

I Hate Valentine’s Day

I Hate Valentine’s Day

A Short Vampire Story

“I shouldn’t be alone today,” thought young Randy as he sat brooding on a rock, on the beach at 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. His heart was broken. The girl, a Vampire girl he knew he was going to fall in love with had given her heart to another and left him in the dreaded friend zone.

And it wasn’t as if she’d left him, or chosen another college student. Sure the guy she’d fallen for looked like he was twenty-one but he was born in freaking 1902. What did girls see in these older guys?

He was jolted from his thoughts by a “Hi. You’re Randy, aren’t you?”

A dark haired girl stood in front of him. “I’m Alexis. I’m in your Organic Chemistry class. I’m a Vampire, but you knew that. I know you are too. Small world.”

“Oh, right. Sure. Hi. Have a seat,” said Randy, glad for the company now.

“I hate Valentine’s Day,” said Alexis.

“Why do you hate it?”

She sat down on rock next to him. “My parents were borderline Shadow Creepers, you know old time Vampires who stayed in the dark most of the time. Nobody knew we were Vampires but everybody including the other school parents thought my parents were weird. I got picked on a lot at school. I was like quiet and small. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I didn’t dare try any of my Vampire stuff on anyone. I was afraid if anyone found out they’d kill my family.  Anyway, every Valentine’s Day we’d have to make stupid boxes and bring Valentines. I always made something pretty with roses and flowers and stuff, all pink and nice. I always But I never got any Valentines. Maybe from one of the girls who felt sorry for me. Everyone had full boxes except me. The kids all started to laugh at me. I wanted to rip their throats out but I couldn’t. You know, Vampire code.”

“Sure, don’t show them what you are, no matter what. Did your mom and dad know?”

“I never told them anything. We didn’t talk much at home. But I got my revenge.”

“Revenge?”

“I told the teacher I had to go the bathroom. Of course the boys started to make jokes about how I’d stink the school up. They were mean like that. Always. It never stopped. So like the teacher said someone had to go with me to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much time in there, cause sometimes I’d just go there to get away from it all. She said that Ashley should go with me. Ashley was the most popular girl.

She started to pout and complain. So a girl called Emma volunteered. Emma was the only kid who gave me a Valentine. She was kind of overweight and sometimes the other kids would say mean things to her too, but she was the smartest kid in the class so they didn’t say too much.

When we got out of the classroom she said she knew I didn’t need to go to the bathroom. We walked around for a bit, then went back to the classroom. But we didn’t go in.

“You can make them pay for what they did. I’ll help you,” said Emma. “I’m a Witch. I know what you are.” Then she smiled in a way that even scared me.

We didn’t go in. The door locked. The room filled with smoke. The other kids started to scream. They couldn’t get out. Everyone started to claw at their faces and arms. That is except the teacher who kept trying to open the door. We ran to the office to get help. You know, we had to keep up appearances.

By the time the fire department go there and knocked down the door, the smoke at gone away, but the smell of sulphur was still in the room. Some of the kids had clawed out their eyes and made huge gashes in their faces and arms.

Then Emma whispered in my ear, “they’ll never call you ugly again.”

Hey, even I was shocked. I never did a thing. It was all her. Both of us ended up going to another school. In high school I made a lot of friends. They all thought my parents were cool Goths. The rest of the kids are still all scarred and screwed up.”

Randy looked at her feeling sort of numb. “Where is Emma now?”

“She got into swimming. Lost a lot of weight. Turned blonde. She’s at UCLA now. So Randy, why don’t you like Valentine’s day?”

“A girl I liked started seeing another guy.”

“Bummer. Sorry to hear that.”

They sat in silence for a while, listening to the waves. Randy didn’t know what to say. He and his best friend had been the two most popular boys at their high school. Their lives had been happy and relatively care free. Their parents were modern Vampire in every way possible.

Alexis bumped her shoulder gently against Randy’s. “I hope you don’t think I’m weird.”

“No. Well, maybe just a little.”

“Looks like the storm is coming in. Wanna get coffee? No pressure. It’s not like I want to be your girlfriend or anything like that. Just you know, like just a couple of Vampire friends.”

“Sure,” said Randy.

As they walked up to the street he put on his sunglasses against the morning sun. Well, stranger things had happened.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Real Monsters – Adults Behaving Badly

Yes, you’ve come to the right place. Yes, I’m the one with the logo that states My Mom Blogs about Vampires. 

But the key word today is MOM. 

I blog about parenting. I blog about talking to kids and communications. I blog about uncomfortable situations with kids, and difficult subjects. Today is one of those days.

I’d like to say I’m not an expert in sexual harassment, or other horrible rude things that adults do but I am. Personal experience. Decades of personal experience. I look back in disgust at too many stories from my own life.

As a mother I have told my stories to the children in my life so that they might know how to react if it happened to them.

No child should have to put up with relatives or friends who say rude things to them.

So what do you do if you have to go to a family even and you know Aunt Teetee will be telling your kids stories about your past (true or not, usually not,) or Uncle Puss telling your kids that their chosen college path will only lead to a life of low paying jobs? TALK TO YOUR KIDS before you go. In fact let your kids know that if ANYONE says anything rude or weird to them, no matter what, that they can come to you about it. Not so much to go beat the crap out of the offending adult, but in the weirdest scenarios teach your kid to laugh about it (because we all know Teetee and Puss are fucking crazy anyway) or, in the worst case you, as the parent, can do something about it.

It seems that so much has come out lately in the news, from our own elected officials saying rude things to kids about their parents (for example the children of journalists), to sexual harassment and assault accusations/charges against oh so many in the entertainment industry. To ALL working people. To all students. To people who have been SILENT about horrible things they’ve known about and never spoken up because of fear, or worse because it was not their problem.

Now is the time to have that conversation with your kids. You should have had that conversation years ago.

Need a place to start? I’ve made a handy bulleted list of things you can tell your children (and yourself.)

  • Nobody has the right to touch you unless you want them to touch you.
  • Nobody has the right to say unwanted comments about your body.
  • Nobody has the right to fat shame you.
  • Nobody has the right to sexualize you in a work situation (or any other time it is unwanted.)
  • Nobody has the right to rape you and use the excuse that it was the way you dressed.
  • You have the right to call anyone out who says things that make you uncomfortable, or makes you feel as if you are in danger.
  • Nobody has the right to bully you into sex.
  • Nobody has the right to bully you.
  • Nobody has the right to say bad things to you about your parents.
  • You have the right to say NO.
  • You have the right to tell another adult if someone makes you uncomfortable.
  • You have the right to tell someone if anyone makes unwanted sexual advances or talks dirty to you.
  • You have the right to let your voice be heard.
  • You have the right to speak up for others.

And the list goes on and on and on.

Don’t be afraid or uncomfortable. As a parent it is YOUR JOB and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to talk to your kids about these thing – open and honestly.

My hope is that the generation of young people today will say STOP the bull shit.

I look at all of the women and even men I’ve known who have been mollested, raped, sexually harassed at work. I think of all of the people who think they can be rude to children. I think about all of the bull shit we’ve had to put up with at the hands of these monsters – for indeed these people are monsters.

It is early, pre-coffee dawn. I am just venting here. But it is a vent that needs to remain open. It is something we should ALL vent about. It is something that we MUST talk to our children, male and female, about. Yes, this isn’t just an issue for women. It is an issue for everyone.

You need to teach your children from an early age what is and what is not acceptable behavior. Using sex as a weapon, or power to get sex, is not an option. It is NEVER an option.

This is the 21st Century. We should have evolved beyond this.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS. I can’t tell you this enough. 

LISTEN TO YOUR KIDS.

LOVE YOUR KIDS.

PROTECT YOUR KIDS.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

pepper2017#NanoPoblano

Parenting: What I’d Do Differently

On June 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. in the morning my daughter graduates from High School. That more or less ends my role as a parent of school aged children.

When I look back at things I’d do different 95% of it has to do with my reactions to situations we’ve encountered at school. Let me rephrase that in a more realistic way. When I was a parent I had no idea I’d have to deal with so many assholes who were dead set on doing the wrong thing for/with/around my children, and other kids who are in my life.

I raise my children not to be bully bait. We’re Vampires so self confidence and fitting in is always a first priority. That said, we’re not any different from any other parents and kids.

So let’s just go down the list.

Why do schools always do their best to protect bullies and brats? That includes children who are sexual predators. Sometimes (most of the time) sitting down and talking to the parents of these children does no good – because the parents are usually the root of the problem.

I’ve seen good teachers fired or driven out of schools by whack job parents and their horrible children. These are people who are constantly complaining, while their kids bully, act out, distract other children, and do horrible things to and around other children.

For example there was a child at our school who decided she wanted to be friends with my daughter. My daughter realized this was a mistake. So then the trouble started. This child would run screaming down the hall. She would take off her clothing in the bathroom and expose herself to other children. By third grade she was telling other children sexually explicit things about sex (like how Gay men perform anal sex.) She would tattle on kids who wouldn’t play with her. She would stalk other kids on the phone and online.

She would tell other children that she wanted to grow up and be in Playboy Magazine, and be a stripper. Since she was a pretty child she would use her big sad eyes and lie to the office staff. Her parents would threaten to sue the school, and they would lie. They lied about my husband agreeing our kids should play. They never talked to my husband. He went up to the school. It wasn’t pretty.

The only administrator who listened left the school for another job. It got worse. A fantastic teacher left the school. The problem child stayed at school. We complained and complained and complained. Nothing happened. We documented the problems. Nothing happened. We were told that the Devil Child wanted to be like my daughter and admired my daughter. What the fuck?

In Middle School the girl developed quickly but refused to wear a bra. It wasn’t as if her family could’t afford it. Some other girls put a bra in her backpack and were suspended. She braless girl screamed and yelled about it as if someone had left a severed head in her backpack.

Something was not right at home – obviously, but nothing was ever done about it. Nobody sent CPS to the home. The child demanded her own way and told other kids that if their parents threatened to sue the school, they too would get to do whatever they wanted to.

With the help of her father the girl learned more complex online stalking. Parents spoke to each other about it, and warned each other so we could all tell our children to ignore her. So they ignored her and she went away.

So much time and effort was spent on this child. Nobody knew who was being blackmailed in the front office. When the children got to High School the girl faded into the background. Nobody in the office would listen to the parents anymore. The girl and her father had physical fights in the parking lot. Then the girl vanished. Then she came back. Then she vanished for good.

Had I been able to do this all over I would have put my foot down harder for the school to do something.

There was also a P.E. teacher I would have had fired because she was horrible to any girl who didn’t act like a boy, or want to be friends with her bully daughter. Nobody liked her, yet she had so much power.

In high school I would have spoken up about the three bad teachers. Luckily there were only three bad teachers. One, a science teacher, had a drug problem. Kids smoked pot in her class and jumped out of windows. Mentally ill druggies should not be in charge of a classroom full of teenagers. The other was a math teacher who was an asshole but protected by the school administration despite parent complaints. Kids who were not allowed to transfer out got bad grades and ended up not getting into the colleges they applied for. The third was an English teacher who I wrote about a few years ago. She couldn’t see talent or desire to learn in children, including mine. She was a jerk. She rushed to judge kids. She was a turtle who hid her head in her shell. If I could go back I would have been up in the school, meeting with administrators in person, and being that parent that all school principals dread.

Other things I would have done include:

  • Learning how to roller skate so I could have skated with my kids.
  • Had a really nice aquarium.
  • Insisted my children learn to garden.
  • Written that best selling novel so my kids could have a parent they could brag about. On the other hand they do brag about us. We’re just not famous. There are advantages to not being famous.
  • Trained the dogs earlier.
  • Traveled more with them.

We’ve never had to deal with teenage angst. Our kids have never told us that they hate us. They always talk to us about everything.

If anyone ever asks me what I am the most proud of I would have to say it is the way I’ve raised my children. They were kids. They’re great young adults. They’ll do fine. They’ll do great. 

So I guess it doesn’t matter about the jerks and assholes. Now they know how to deal with those kinds of people. It is a lesson learned. 

For those who are new here I’ll tell you again how I approach parenting. This is from 2012 but it still applies.

Parenting – Why it is important and what I believe and practice.

This is a thinly veiled parenting blog and a Vampire blog, but most of all it is a blog about relationships. That can be a lot of things including how we relate to our families, or kids, our friends, weird people and our lovers.

The main message is for parents to talk not just at or to their kids but WITH their kids. Also to give your children the safety to be their own little personalities (or big personalities) and to be kids, but also give them the freedom to grow and fly. I am a strong advocate against over protecting children. I’m a mother wolf and yes, I’ll protect to the death, but I don’t want to be responsible for an immature, over sensitive, ignorant adult one of these days. Children, in my opinion, need their parents forever, but they also need to know about the world they’ll live most of their lives in, especially teens. They also need to know the harsh facts about sex, drugs and the company they keep. Our reputations and the choices we make as teens can stay with us our entire lives. Teens need to know this.

I absolutely love teens. They’re funny and wise and silly and so loving in ways that most people don’t even see. Just talk to one, or better yet, try to remember a million years ago in another time, another world, another planet, when you were a teen.

But I’m not going to preach those ideas in every single blog post. Through my tales about my kids, my husband, my brothers and my friends, I try to get across my messages about relationships, love, consequences, and just life. And if I can get someone to think or laugh I feel like I’ve done something. If I can get anyone to laugh I’m happy.

When you bring a baby or child home, whether you give birth to it or adopt it or foster or live with any child, you bring home the entire universe in a kid sized package. And something you’re never told…You NEVER know who you’re bringing home with you.

Your child is not your clone. Your child is someone with their own will and their own view – right from the start.

Throw out the baby and child care books because this little person is going to prove they’re ALL WRONG. And you’ll have more fun than you EVER imagined.

So what does a woman who muses on mom stuff teach the children in her life?

  • Teach your children, no matter who your children are, or will become, to treasure acts of kindness.
  • Teach them that if they speak rudely to another child, they will forget it in a minute, and the other child will remember it for a lifetime.
  • Teach them the value of life and the value of love.
  • Teach them not to lie. Lies are worse than snakes – they always come back and bite you in the butt and they contain poison.
  • Teach them to learn from their mistakes.
  • Teach them to learn from the mistakes of others (if more people did that there WOULD be world peace).
  • Teach them that they ARE going to make mistakes – big ones – and that you’re always there for them (you’d better be there for them).
  • Teach them to be tough. Tough mentally and physically. We’re not living in la la land folks.
  • Tech them to love learning. Learning is a lifelong process. Like my dad used to say “If you stop learning you might as well be dead.”
  • Teach them to play, and to keep playing even as adults.
  • Teach them to love and respect nature for it will always be a joy and they will always be amazed.
  • Teach them that it is their responsibility to take care of their environment.
  • Teach them that ignorance is a vice and knowledge is a virtue. Knowledge is power.
  • Teach them the value of friendship. Friendship is not a contest. Friendship is a lazy ride on a raft down the river. You laugh, you rescue each other, you talk until the stars come out, and you remember that trip forever, not expecting anything but to be able to be yourself, without judgement, and to not have the pressure of judging your friend.
  • Teach them life without a sense of humor is, well, a humorless life. Who needs that?
  • Teach them to tell someone else something good about themselves every single day and MEAN IT. While your at it don’t forget hugs.
  • Teach them to smile (but don’t show your fangs). Smile a lot.
  • Teach them to pay if forward.
  • Teach them that their opinions are valued.
  • Teach them to have an active imagination – especially as they grow older.
  • Teach them that READING will take them everywhere. People who read are interesting. People who don’t…well, we won’t talk about them.
  • Teach them that people who aren’t like them are interesting. If we were all the same the world would be a very boring place.
  • And last of all teach them that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions and the consequences. Period. No exceptions. None. That’s it.

Parenting doesn’t end when they’re grown. We all know that. We’ll still be close. We’ll still be learning. Now I just have to figure out what it means to be a parent of adult children. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t still be calling them to the window to see the cute squirrel on the deck, or looking up to the sky to see bats, or to talk for hours, and laugh just because we can. We’ll still be doing all that and more.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Quietly Listen

He showed me a new project on his large computer screen, in the back room of a restored Victorian house. A cat sat on a window seat grooming herself. She’d lick a paw then carefully wipe her face. Then she curled up in a tight ball and started to purr.

“Tell me what you think Juliette,” he said with a cautious smile.

“I like it a lot,” I told him. I did like it. Nobody was surprised that he and his partner had made millions over the past five years. “You’re sad today.”

He looked up, kind of surprised. “I was just thinking. I saw a school bus earlier today. It brought back memories of when I was a kid. Everyday on the bus was a nightmare for me.”

I looked at this successful, good looking, witty man, and listened. I’d heard these stories before. Not his, but from others. What is it about humans that they’re children are so cruel. Some grow out of it. Some grow up to lead nations and continue to be cruel. Some who continue to be bullies are failures because of their crude actions. I just listened.

I was stupid and foolish as a young person, and done a lot of things I have retreated later, but never endured being beaten up on a bus, or called names and taunted for eight hours a day. I’ve never lived in that kind of fear day in and day out.

“I’d forgotten about it until today. I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

“You’re better than they are.”

He smiled sadly. “Success is the best revenge.” He rolled up his sleeve and held out his arm. “Make me feel better Juliette. Please.”

I took his wrist and sank my fangs into it. I closed my eyes and sucked out the pain, and gave him a high that made him put his head back in the chair and relax into a deep trance like state. A smile came on his face.

When I was done I gave him a kiss. “You have your own Vampire. That is something those who were cruel will never have. Consider yourself lucky.”

He laughed and rolled down my sleeves. “Until next time,” he said.

“Until then,” I said and left him to sleep and dream of better things.

And remember, you don’t have to be a Vampire to help make the pain go away. Listen to those young and old. Stop bullying when you see it. The fight of those who are bullied is the side we should all be on. Stop, listen, support. How simple is that?  Extremely simple.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman