Camp NaNoWriMo

Laptop, Check, Flashlight, Check, Bug Spray, Check – Packing for April Camp NaNoWriMo 2021

*blows whistle* Listen up, campers!

It’s time to line up for Camp NaNoWriMo! Come on, don’t be shy! Grab your gear and follow me.

Watch your step, stick to the path. We don’t want anyone to get lost!

I hear some excited chatter back there! I know how you feel! It’s time to chuck the real world aside for a moment and dive back into our creative worlds. Here at Camp WritefromKaren, our goal is to provide you with a safe, comfortable place to allow your creative muse room to stretch, grow and dance, if he/she feels so inclined.

I know it feels a bit cool now, but once we build the campfire and snuggle up with a hot beverage or two, you’ll be all set to begin your writing adventure.

Step lively! We want to get there before dark!

*fifteen minutes of traipsing through the woods later*

And, we’re here! *blows whistle* You can place your stuff in your assigned cabins, there is a number on the back of the keychains you were given earlier, and then meet me back out here with your preferred writing utensil of choice and let’s get started!

*ten minutes later*

Welcome back! We’re all gathered here today to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo. Anything goes. The rule is, there are no rules. You can approach Camp any way you choose. You can set your own word count, you can choose to use this time to edit an existing project and work on any project you so choose. Camp NaNoWriMo is not as stringent as the traditional NaNoWriMo held every November. The weather is warm (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the goal is to get out of the house (because the pandemic is almost over, right??), breathe in some fresh air, clean out the brain cobwebs, dust off your creative muse and have some fun!

Just a reminder, Camp NaNoWriMo is held every April and July so if you miss this camp, there is always another one just around the corner. I hope we can establish a writing group by next Camp so we can exchange ideas and offer support to one another.

For those of you curious as to my project – I plan on writing four stories about 6,500(ish) words long. Wait, what is a novella length … *Googles it* 10,000 to 40,000 words whereas a novelette, (which I didn’t even know existed before just now), is 7,500 to 10,000 words long.

So now, I have to challenge myself to write four novelettes this month because, why not??

I’d like to write 25,000 (ish) words in April – we’ll see how close I get.

I’m choosing shorter pieces because I feel like that’s the type of writing that suits me best. Anything longer than 10,000 words and I start getting bored – with or without plotting.

I’d like to host some writing sprints – not live, but via video. I don’t know about you guys, but writing sprints REALLY worked for me in November and I’m pretty sure that’s the reason I won NaNoWriMo in November 2020. You can also find TONS of writing sprints on YouTube – just search writing sprints and you can take your pick.

My Patreon is up and running, (link in the sidebar) but it’s just beginning and will take some time to build a community so in the meantime, I would love if you would consider joining me on the NaNoWriMo site for my “Write Away” group hosted there. NaNoWriMo limits the group size to 20. If you want to leave a comment on this post with your NaNoWriMo username, I can add you to the group. My username is take2max if you want to search for me. (You have to be signed into the NaNoWriMo site for that link to work).

I’m not sure if I will post my stories here or not. It all depends on what I get done and how fast I get it done. But I will post excerpts of my work on my Patreon, tier three, if you’re interested in joining. I would LOVE to see what you’re working on as well! Feel free to leave a link to your WIP in the comment section.

Here are a couple of story ideas – feel free to steal this for your own writing, if you’re looking for ideas:

  1. Hidden room discovered behind a mirror – why is it there? Who is watching her? Who is living there?
  2. Message in a bottle washes ashore. What is the message? Who is it from? Why was it put there?
  3. Bride’s limo catches fire on the way to her wedding. Does the wedding go on as planned? Or does this interruption change the bride’s life path forever?
  4. Flash drive full of disturbing pictures. The hunt is on to find the girl in the pictures and potentially save her life.

I may, or may not, use some of these ideas. 🙂

So, to recap: I plan on writing 7,500 (ish) words per week in April and to offer weekly (??) writing sprint videos.

Gah. I’m starting to sweat when thinking how much work this is going to be. lol

Okay campers, enough about me. What are YOUR plans for the 2021 April Camp NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo2020

Caught on Film

It wasn’t as if she knew what she was doing.

Okay. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Whitney reached into her car and grabbed her camera bag. She unzipped it and pulled out her DLSR and lens. She hooked the strap around her neck and stuffed an extra battery into the pocket of her jacket. She was slipping her phone in her other jacket pocket when it dinged.

Where are you?

She stuck her car keys in the pocket of her jeans and locked the car before answering.

At Cricket Falls. Taking pictures for class. 

You’re still on the photography kick? 

You make it sound like a hobby.

Isn’t it?

Listen Seth, I have spent a lot of money on classes and I need to practice. I really want to make this into something. Why can’t you support me?

Because it’s stupid and a pipe dream. Stick with the bank. You have a future there.

Whitney sighed and rolled her eyes.

Why can’t you support me?? She typed furiously.

I’m trying to prevent you from making a mistake. 

Whitney was beginning to wonder if Seth was the mistake.

I can’t talk right now. I need to go before I lose the light. 

Fine.

She angrily tucked the phone into her other jeans pocket and briefly closed her eyes. She had been taking photography classes for nearly four months and she resented Seth for making her feel stupid. She wanted to enjoy the classes and he was making it impossible with his negativity and complaining.

Asshole, she thought.

She tugged a hairband in to push her curly black hair out of her eyes. She tested the door handle of her VW bug and set off toward the hiking trail. She hadn’t been to Cricket Falls in quite some time and she was looking forward to taking pictures at sunset.

She stopped just as she entered the tree line. She had forgotten her water bottle. She paused. She should probably go back and get it but it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a little over two hours and it would take her nearly an hour to reach the falls.

She shrugged and continued down the path.

She stepped around tree roots and over smooth, flat rocks. She took deep, cleansing breaths. There was nothing like fresh air to clear the week’s cobwebs. She knew Seth wanted her to stay with the bank but she was bored. She wanted a job where she could be creative and spontaneous. She had no idea if she would be able to make any money at photography but she certainly wanted to try. She loved learning about F-stops and angles, lighting and focus points in class. It was challenging to look at something and then set up the perfect shot in order to try and capture the mood she wanted to portray.

The day was quickly cooling down and she was thankful she had grabbed a jacket. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind distended gray clouds and it looked like a storm front was heading in. She paused to check the weather on her phone. She had to walk up an incline in order to get a better signal. Weather was definitely coming in but she figured she had about three hours before it reached her, plenty of time to shoot some pictures and make it back to her car before it rained.

Her phone dinged. She sighed and continued walking. It was probably Seth and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the time she had and to focus on her pictures as she was hoping to touch them up and present them at her next class for critique. She ignored the text and kept moving. She glanced up at the sky. There were now more clouds than sun and she was beginning to think maybe she should head back to her car as she didn’t want to risk getting her camera equipment wet.

She was lost in thought and seriously thinking about turning around when she rounded a bend and there, in all it’s glory, was Cricket Falls.

She paused to to fully absorb the sheer magnificence of the beautiful waterfall. The falls were not as swollen as she had seen them in the past but she knew it would only be a matter of minutes after the rain started to turn the relatively calm waters into a raging, angry flow.

She heard a crack of thunder and it made her jump into action. She lifted her camera, adjusted her settings and began taking pictures from various angles. She was actually glad the sun had disappeared behind the clouds as it provided her with better light and a somber atmosphere. After taking about twenty shots, she was placing her lens cap back on the camera when another round of thunder reverberated above. She nervously eyed the sky and turned around to head back. She paused at the fork in the path and decided to take another route back to her car. She didn’t know for sure if it was quicker, but had hiked that particular path before and felt like the way back was less rocky.

She was weaving through the trees, dodging and dunking under branches when she heard a sound.

After being in the woods for over an hour, she had gotten used to the shuffling of critters in the leaves and the wind rustling the tree branches. But this sound was different. It sounded like a soft hiss, or scrape, then as if something was being dropped onto soft earth.

She broke through some trees and her phone dinged again.

She paused and dug it out of her pocket.

Another girl has gone missing. I don’t like you being out there all alone. Come home.

Whitney sent a quick text back to Seth.

You worry too much. I got my shots and am heading back. 

He answered back immediately.

Good.

She dropped her phone back into her pocket and squelched her irritation.  He was trying. She needed to try as well.

She entered the next clump of trees, carefully picking her way through the path when she heard the strange noise again.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

What was that sound? It seemed so out-of-place in the woods and yet, she felt like she had heard that sound before.

She veered off the path and crept toward where she thought the sound was coming from. She reached out to move a low-hanging branch only for it to swing back and slap her in the face.

“Ow!” She clapped a hand over her cheek to try and quell the sting.

The sound abruptly stopped.

Whitney also stopped and stood still. She could feel her heartbeat quickening even though she forced her breathing to slow and quiet. Something felt wrong. Why did the sound stop? A flash of lightening pierced the darkening sky above her. She counted silently in her head … 1 … 2 …3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … Thunder rolled across the sky and Whitney glanced at the time on her phone. She estimated she had about thirty minutes before the rain reached her. Though she knew she needed to move, she couldn’t. It was too quiet. Though she didn’t know what the sound was, she suddenly wished it would start back up again. She instinctively knew the sound resuming was safer than not.

She continued to stay still and she silently urged the sound to continue so she could move. She didn’t know why it was so important for the sound to resume but she was spooked enough that she didn’t feel like she should move until it did.

Her phone dinged and the sound seemed to echo loudly.

“Shit,” she reached in to her pocket and quickly muted her phone. She could hear a rustling up ahead of her and she quietly moved closer to the trees, off the path and into the shadows. She felt ridiculous for playing chicken with the mysterious sound but the goosebumps on her arms was enough to give her pause.

After long minutes, the sound started back up again and she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

She cautiously moved forward, careful to avoid disturbing the leaves and rocks in her way. She crept into a small batch of trees and tried to peer through.

She saw a flash of blue.

Was that a person?

Continue reading “Caught on Film”

Fiction Fix, Writing Stuff

Write: Girl Unclaimed

I threw the stick and watched Daisy run after it, her tongue lolling to one side, her stubby little legs pumping unrestrained excitement.

I glanced out over the water and became momentarily mesmerized by the light flirting with the small ripples from fish nibbling algae on the surface of the lake.

And then I saw it – a yellow spot among the tall, green grass gently swaying in the sweet twilight breeze. I narrowed my eyes to try and pick out the object without having to actually move closer to it. My peripheral vision blurred as I concentrated on the object that did not belong in this secluded spot. A slow feeling of dread started in my sternum and gently crept up to give my heart a warning squeeze.

Daisy dropped the stick on my sandal and I jumped – I had momentarily forgotten all about her. I bent to pick up the stick, my eyes never leaving that spot of yellow. From my lowered vantage point, my eyes focused on something new. Was that … an arm?

I quickly stood up, my breath caught behind the sudden fear in my throat.

I gripped the stick tighter in my hand and cautiously moved toward the object in the grass.

Daisy happily skipped alongside me. Her gait faltered as we got closer, her nose lifted and she suddenly growled low in her throat.

“I know, Daisy. Chillax,” I crooned in an attempt to keep her calm and not start a barrage of barking. The less noise we made the better.

I held the stick out in front of me – I guess I thought I could use it as a weapon. Though not long or sharp, it was thick enough that it might do temporary damage to a skull, or two.

My eyes never left the object, but I was keenly aware of where I was stepping. I had enough combat experience to slip back into that persona with very little effort. I had thought I had lost my edge but moving toward the target brought back a barrage of memories and I involuntarily winced as horrific images began to flicker and flit through my consciousness. Memories I had spent countless hours in therapy trying to eradicate.

My eyes narrowed as I got closer. It was definitely a body, a woman, no, a girl. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-years old. I paused to assess my surroundings. I looked out over the lake and studied the parameter. No movement. The birds continued to sing, a raccoon edged toward the far end of the lake and carelessly swiped at the water gently lapping the shore.

A soft breeze swept over the body. I crinkled my nose. Decomp – she had probably been dead for at least 24 hours.

“Damn it.” I sighed and slowly stepped back from the body. I couldn’t afford to leave any trace of myself on the body. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone. I pressed 9-1 and then stopped.

Even if I called in anonymously, they would still track my cell phone down. I couldn’t afford to be found. Not yet anyway. Not after I had spent the last three years making sure every trace of my existence had been erased.

I studied the girl’s face and slowly put my phone back into my pocket.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered regretfully. My apology dissipated on the summer breeze.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Workshop – Point of View

This post was originally published on Write Anything, October 21, 2008.

Welcome back to Write Anything NaNoWriMo workshop week!

“The choice of the point(s) of view from which the story is told is arguably the most important single decision that the novelist has to make, for it fundamentally affects the way readers will respond, emotionally and morally, to the fictional characters and their actions.” David Lodge

Let’s talk a little bit about point of view.

When I first became interested in writing, point of view confused me.

A lot.

First of all, I couldn’t keep them straight. I think the writing teachers I had back in school took great delight in watching our faces contort into all sorts of bewildered masks as they stood in front of the class and talked about the various points of views and when you should, or should not use them.

And if you learned NOTHING else from them, you did not, under any circumstances, combine them in the same story!

*insert horrified gasp*

That point was pounded so much into my brain I actually graduated from college with a lop-sided skull.

Now, you’re lucky if you read a story, any story and from any genre, that doesn’t have at least two different points of view in them. And in some stories, points of view change so fast that it leaves readers scratching their heads trying to figure out 1). which character they’re supposed to be following and 2). exactly whose story is it, anyway?

Even though I understand the difference between the points of view now, I still hesitate over which POV I should write my stories from, because a lot of times, picking the right point of view can make, or break, your story.

But first things first – let’s define the various points of view:

First-Person Singular POV

The most natural POV is the first-person singular, since all stories and trials originate with someone, an “I,” witnessing what happens.

The first person narrator can tell a story with herself as a central character or she can be one of the minor characters. Or she can tell somebody else’s story, barely mentioning herself except to show where the information comes from.

First-Person Multiple POV

You use several first-person narrators and alternate among them, usually beginning a new chapter with each change of narrator. This strategy offers a diversity of voices, viewpoints and ways of thinking without the arrogance of the omniscient sound.

Some pros and cons for First-Person POV:

Pro: It’s technically the least ambiguous. Readers always know who is seeing and experiencing the story. It’s subjective. You’re a bit more free with the voice – using slang, bad grammar, etc. And first person offers smooth access to a character’s thoughts. (You don’t have to worry about awkward switches in pronouns – which CAN get tedious).

Cons: We can’t take an outside look at our POV character. Sure, you could use a mirror, but that’s been overdone and is in fact, cliche – avoid that technique if at all possible. In a suspense story, it’s pretty much a given that an “I” character will survive – kill off your “I” character and the story dies with him/her. And it’s hard to create a compelling new voice for each story.

Third-Person Omniscient POV

In this POV, which is used infrequently in contemporary writing, the author knows everything about all the characters, places and events involved. The reader observes from many angles. The “camera” is conveniently set wherever the action is, akin to television coverage of a basketball game.

Third-Person Limited POV

This POV – and its variants – is the most common one used. There are at least three kinds of third-person limited POVs:

Third-person subjective POV – resembles first-person POV except it’s usually done in standard English rather than in the character’s voice.

Third-person objective POV – You don’t reveal the viewer – the way you don’t see the person holding a camcorder.

Third-person limited omniscient POV – this combines the objective and the subjective approaches.

Third-Person Multiple POV – this sounds like omniscient POV, and the difference may be subtle, but it’s best to see it as a series of third-person limted POVs minus authorial intrusions.

Objective POV (or theatrical POV) – this perspective is blurred under the third-person objective POV, but we should distinguish an objective POV, which does not focus on one person, from the limited objective POV.

Second-Person POV

The author makes believe that he is talking to someone, describing what the person addressed is doing. But the “you” is not the reader, though sometimes it’s hard to get rid of the impression that the author is addressing you directly. This POV is the least popular as it puts the readers on the defensive, most people do not like to be told how to think or what they are to do, even in stories.
(Source: Josip Novakovich, Fiction Writer’s Workshop)

There are a few more, but in essence, they are a combination of the ones listed above.

I think you get the point (of view – haha).

Here are a few POV exercises to try:

1. Take a piece of your own writing and rewrite it in
(a) a different viewpoint
(b) a different tense (changing from present to past, for example).

2. Take a passage from a favorite novel and rewrite it, changing viewpoint and tense. How does that change the story? Does it read better?

3. Relate one of the following scenes in 300 words, first from one viewpoint, and then from another:

The first day of school. A young teacher, fresh from college, faces his/her first class. (The viewpoint of the teacher, and then one of the pupils).

There has been a road crash. (Viewpoint of a by-stander, and then the crash victim).

A young woman helps an old blind man across the road. (Viewpoint of the woman, and then the man).

(Source of exercises: Nigel Watts, Writing a Novel)

It may take some time to settle on a particular POV for your story, but a POV that works for the story will make it better and more interesting to readers.

One word of caution: switching POVs often irritates readers and certainly most editors, unless you establish the pattern early in the story, writers should respect POV. Keep your readers inside one character head at a time and if you switch, make sure the switch is obvious by either starting a new chapter from another POV, or even a new paragraph – never in the same sentence.

Finding the best POV for your story is difficult and may take some experimenting. The only rule about POV is that there is no rule. If a particular technique works, use it. And if your story is not working with your current POV, rewrite it and change the POV and see what happens.

Next: Plot

Fiction Fix

Fiction Fix: The Smell of Freedom

“Mama,” I swallowed the tickle from the back of my throat and forced myself to take slow, even breaths, “I’m leaving.”

I quietly set my bags down next to the sagging front door. It was time. I wasn’t, until this very moment, sure that I had the courage to actually go through with it.

Breathe in, breathe out, I silently reminded myself. I could feel my heart slamming against my ribs and a low squeeze in my kidneys.

I suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

My mother continued to sit on the living room sofa, a cigarette dangling from one hand, her other hand buried deep into a bag of potato chips. The room was dark save for the small, lonely light above the stovetop and I immediately wished I had thought to turn it out before making my announcement; I felt exposed and raw, like a weeping wound. The light shone directly on my face; she would be able to see my hope, my deep seated need to leave the hellhole I was forced to call home.

I wished with all my heart the light would simply flicker and die in that moment, somehow that would have seemed fitting – a perfect summary of my life.

My mother snorted and roused herself from her television-induced stupor. The bluish-gray light from the box sliced across my mother’s large frame and cast ugly shadows across her hard face. She didn’t turn around to look at me, nor move from her position on the sofa, but her voice projected so clear and sharp I felt like she was standing right next to me.

“Come here, girl.”

I had expected the summons, but I jumped, nevertheless.

I shuffled my feet across the dirty, threadbare carpet, my secondhand moccasins making a soft swishing noise as I moved to stand near her, but far enough away that she couldn’t reach me if she were to reach for me. I had learned, from years of experience, to always be on my guard around my mother.

“What did you say?” she asked as I completed my journey across the room.

I knew she had heard me, she had excellent hearing. In fact, her hearing was almost canine in nature. She could hear the slightest sigh or the softest mumble the entire length of our trailer, with the doors closed and the television volume turned all the way up. In fact, her hearing was so acute, that I used to wonder if my mother didn’t somehow have super natural powers.

“I, uh,” I mumbled and I jumped once again at my mother’s sharp tone of voice.

“Speak up, girl. You know I can’t stand it when you act like a whipped dog.”

Now there was an apt description, I thought bitterly to myself.

I stood next to the ratty, stained sofa and absently stared at the reddish-brown stain that nearly covered on threadbare arm. That stain had prompted several questions and numerous jokes over the years – the stain remained a mystery.

I could feel my mother’s coal black eyes staring a hole into my face. My answering blush only teased my sense of anxiety and small beads of sweat began lining my upper lip.

“You better answer me now, girl. You’re making me miss my soaps.”

I could feel my shoulders slump and my body curl inward, my confidence began to ebb and I forced a dry, blob of nervousness back with a swallow. My counselor told me this might happen. He also told me what to do when it did.

My eyes shifted toward the TV, now boldly airing a commercial for a female hygiene product. I wanted to laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of the situation – didn’t they know that women like my mother would never elect to spend their precious cigarette money on something as inconsequential as feminine wash?

And as if the thought provoked the smell, or maybe the smell had been there all along and I only now recognized it for what it was, I could smell my mother’s sour body. The origin of the smell originated somewhere deep beneath the dirt, sweat, beer, smoke and oily skin – it was somewhat yeasty and not altogether unpleasant.

“Damn it!” She pounded a meaty fist on top of the mysterious reddish-brown stain and I involuntarily flinched at the movement. “Are you trying to piss me off, girl?”

Girl. I straightened at the term, for that was all my mother every called me. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time she had actually said my name.

“She will likely mock you,” my counselor’s voice rang in my ears. “Do not allow her to make you feel guilty or insecure. You deserve this. You deserve to start your own life.”

I smiled at the thought. Not because of the unkind things my mother has said over the years, but at the thought of someone having faith in me, in my future.

My mother’s brow arched at my smile. “What the hell is wrong with you, child. Are you on drugs?”

No, that’s your thing, mother,” is what I wanted to say, but instead I simply cleared my throat and repeated my earlier words. “I’m leaving, mama.”

She stared at me for long moments. Her face was expressionless, her eyes cold and hard, her lips a thin, straight line of disapproval and then, without warning or provocation, her mouth began to tremble and a low rumbling sounded in the back of her throat.

For a split moment, I thought she was going to start choking and I quickly ran various emergency procedures through my head.

But I needn’t have worried; my mother wasn’t choking, she was laughing. The sound that squeezed past her fat lips was a cross between a squeaky wheel and a burbling brook.

“Yer what?” She repeated, gasping for air. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere. You ain’t got no friends and you certainly ain’t got no man,” she stopped abruptly and narrowed her eyes at me. “You ain’t got ya a man, do you?”

“No mama,” I said quietly and she nodded once in approval.

“I didn’t think so. Don’t you go and git yerself tangled up with no man. They ain’t nothin’ but trouble, hear me?” She lifted a pudgy arm and swiped the back of her hand across her nose, smearing a thin line of mucus across her upper lip. “They’ll screw you, take yer money and then leave ya high and dry.”

I couldn’t help but wonder which of the long line of men my mother might be referring to. None of them had been any better than abusive beggars.

Continue reading “Fiction Fix: The Smell of Freedom”

Parenting, Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Severing the Friendship Ties

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

I will just tell you, right off the bat, that this story is based on real life. Stick around, I need your input at the end.

_______________________________

Severing the Friendship Ties

Matt clutched his paper lunch bag tighter between his fingers. He hated lunch, mainly because he never knew where to sit.

And it was the only time period in the day when he had to endure Lance.

Matt stepped behind a group of teenage girls and kept a few paces back from them as they entered the lunchroom. Maybe Lance wouldn’t find him today. Maybe he wouldn’t have to listen to Lance’s loud voice or put up with this immature attitude.

He lifted his head a bit to look over the girl’s shoulder in front of him. So far, so good. The girl, sensing him behind him, glanced back and gave him a disinterested once over.

Matt flashed a lop-sided grin and moved past the girls and toward a table at the edge of the lunchroom.

The noise was deafening. But even though it was loud in the lunchroom, it was nothing compared to Lance’s boisterous antics.

He gingerly sat down and opened his bag. He smiled. He loved the lunches his mom packed for him. They were always full of good stuff. He pulled out a crust-less peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Cheez-Its, a can of root beer and a baggie stuffed with mult-colored Twizzlers.

His favorite candy.

He popped the tab on his can and looked around. He didn’t really mind eating lunch by himself. It was a welcome relief from his day – it gave him a chance to unwind and de-stress a bit before he tackled his afternoon classes.

He released a long, soft sigh and ripped open his sandwich. His fingers dug into the spongy bread and his smile grew. He loved the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, especially when they were soft and gooey. He lifted the circular sandwich to his lips when he heard it.

Lance’s voice, calling out his name.

In the middle of the lunchroom.

People began to twitter in amusement and turned their heads trying to locate him.

Many found him. And to Matt’s utter horror, so did Sarah. The girl he had been in love with since 4th grade.

He sighed and slowly lowered his sandwich, his appetite dissipating into wispy smoke.

“Matt! Dude! I’ve been looking all over for you.”

Matt didn’t answer.

“So, what’s up?”

Matt very calmly, and with precise movements, pulled out his book with one hand, and lifted his sandwich with the other.

He took a generous bite and was chewing quietly when it happened.

The temper tantrum.

“What the heck? Why are you ignoring me? What, I’m not GOOD enough for you?”

Matt tried to ignore the stares from his peers, but he knew they were looking – and laughing.

At him, most likely.

“I DON’T LIKE BEING IGNORED, MATT.” Lance crossed his arms and openly pouted.

Matt took a breath. He kept his eyes trained on his book and though he appeared outwardly calm, his heart was hammering so hard in his chest he felt light headed.

“You’re embarrassing me, Lance. I’ve already told you. I don’t want to hang out with you if you don’t learn to control yourself. I’m right here,” he glanced quickly at the boy, “you don’t have to yell.”

“WHO SAYS I’M YELLING?”

Matt just looked at him with raised eyebrows. He shook his head and went back to reading. The words wavered before his eyes and he had no idea what he was reading.

He never thought he would ever think this, let alone mean it, but he was actually looking forward to going back to class.

And away from Lance.

_______________________________

Matt? Is MK. Lance? Is MK’s “friend.” We’ll continue to call him Lance.

Let me explain …

We are now into the fourth day of the school year and MK is miserable. Not because of his teachers, his classes, or even his peers, but rather because of one lone boy – a boy he’s known since second grade.

This boy has always been loud (and in my opinion, obnoxious). And MK has always rolled with that loudness and seemed to like this boy and liked to hang out with him.

Until this year. Apparently, MK has done a bit of maturing over the summer and he no longer finds this boy quite so amusing. In fact, this boy is still stuck in grade school, apparently, because MK tells me that a lot of kids are now making fun of this boy and his loud voice and overly-dramatic gestures and attitude.

In fact, MK sort of thinks the boy acts feminine – if you catch my drift.

But that’s not even the real issue (though that makes him uncomfortable). The real issue is he’s not sure how to handle this. He’s tried talking to the boy, “Dude, you’re embarrassing me. Cut it out.” And the boy gets all bent out of shape, raises his voice and just causes a scene so that it’s just better to endure his behavior than try and confront him about it. (And yes, MK has tried to talk to him privately, but it still escalates into a problem, from what MK tells me).

MK’s other friends are too freaked out to be around Lance, so they avoid him, leaving MK holding the embarrassment. MK doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to hurt this boy’s feelings, he’s tried talking to him but Lance doesn’t seem to get the message.

MK is now thinking about emailing the boy – maybe Lance will actually LISTEN to what he has to say instead of making a scene and getting all defensive.

What would you advise your son to do if you were in my shoes?

EDIT: MK and his friend talked on the phone last night. He told the friend that he’s under a lot of stress this year with all of his music activities and he doesn’t have time to stress about his freinds’ behaviors. I was very impressed with how he handled himself – he was very mature and understanding, “I know you’re like that … I understand … but this is how I feel.”

I don’t know if anything was resolved but it was a very proud momma moment – we are really raising this kid right. It’ll be interesting to see how this kid handles the “truth.” Hey, if you don’t have honesty, then what do you have.