Friday, 17 October 2014

Blog 76 - Excerpt from I am Isabella

An un-edited excerpt from Chapter One of  my novel   I am Isabella:

I looked in the mirror. Oh man another pimple! I hated pimples. Do you get pimples? I don’t get them bad. Some kids’ faces are covered. Mine just come up to have a holiday and then go away. Dabbing some Clearasil on it I prayed that it would have its holiday quickly and disappear. I pulled on my warm freshly ironed uniform and thought about school.

School. Do you like school? I would describe my feelings towards school as love, hate and like. There were things I loved, there were things I hated and there were things I liked. Obvious hey!

I have thought about this so much that I have categories for my feelings: teachers, students, homework.

Teachers. I really liked my English teacher, Miss George. She was my favourite teacher. Miss gave me great marks on my assignments and she helped me when I get stuck. I actually went to her about my secret and she told me that it would be a good idea to tell it. I even rehearsed for her and she told me how I could improve my speech. She’s done that for other assignments too.  Miss liked it when I put up my hand to answer her questions because most of the other kids didn’t pay much attention ... and she was always friendly and nice to me. I would give her an A+ J

I hated teachers like Mr A. He was my maths teacher. Mr A was the opposite of Miss. No encouragement, no help. When I asked for assistance I got, “Look in the book!” accompanied by a harsh expression. Well the book didn’t have a mouth or a brain so it couldn’t explain the maths to me! I would get so frustrated. Mr A. was so unfriendly and never smiled. I would give him an F L

All the other teachers rated in between – I liked them.

Students. I loved hanging out with my friends at school. Without friends school wouldn’t be much fun. Lunchtimes were spent hanging out at the basketball courts where we would chat, goof off and watch the guys play. Sometimes Tilly liked to stir them up by running onto the court, intercepting the ball and throwing it at the goal, or she would dance around the court playing dodge ‘ems. They would always yell at her and snatch it back. It was funny to watch and we would all be laughing our heads off.

Sofia still came to sit with us. I was getting used to having her around. She was alright. Thursdays, second break was Art Club. I loved Art Club. Mr Brady, one of the art teachers, would teach us about different types of media and techniques. We were learning heaps. Maybe one day I could design skateboard decks. That would be cool to do! J

I hated my bullies. Tia and Carla. The price you paid for being different was called a bully. “Hey poppy eyes. Hi fish head. Hi googly eyes. Hey flat face.” I’d heard them all before. In my imagination when they would spit one at me I would see myself slapping their smiles off their faces. L

Tia you already know about. Carla was in Year Eleven. She made herself known to me on my third day of Year Eight. I was walking to Music and heard a voice say, “Hey fish head.” I looked in the direction which was a bad move, and stared straight into her ugly face. Carla said it again, “Yeah you, fish head.” I was in shock because I had never seen her before. I had no clue who she was. I turned bright red and took off. It was like she had lit a fire baton and was rubbing it all over my body. I told Tilly who went on a mission to find out who this witchy girl was. Tilly became Pinnaroo High’s Detective Holmes. And, like Detective Holmes she solved the mystery – very quickly in fact. Carla was known as a school bully it turned out. I was not her only prey. She picked on lots of kids. During her detective work Tilly found out that Carla couldn’t be expelled because she had some disability which made her exempt, so the school put up with her. Didn’t seem right. I didn’t like meeting up with Carla so if I saw her in the distance I dodged her by walking a different way. Sometimes though it just happened. When it did I flashed her my biggest smile and said, “How are you today kitten?” That was Tilly’s suggestion. I even had to practise saying it to her so it would just come out. Carla never knew what to do and she looked at me like a fish had slapped her in the face. In my heart I would actually much rather take a pair of scissors and cut her up into miniscule pieces! Do you get bullied?

Of course there are other girls and guys I talked to at school, otherwise I would be mute during my classes – they were the ones I liked.

Homework. Do you like homework? I actually didn’t mind doing homework, though I would rather be talking to my friends on Facebook. I really liked English tasks probably because it was my favourite subject. Maths not so much. I got stressed out and angry when I was stuck on problems. I often wanted to chuck the textbook in the bin or throw it out the window into our neighbour’s swimming pool… but of course I didn’t. I would keep on trying and most of the time I figured them out. So I would classify homework as love-hate-like. I can do that because it’s my story. J L

I pulled on my white sports socks and well-worn dirty sneakers. Hopefully Mum would buy me some new ones soon. I couldn’t imagine being Sofia, having money. My mum didn’t work and Dad was on an okay wage. He was a long haul truck driver so we didn’t see much of him. Money was always tight. Sofia would never have to wait for a new pair of sneakers. I was sure she had several new pairs sitting in her cupboard. Mine had holes in them.


© 2012 by Jenny Woolsey

Blog 75 - I am Isabella - MY NEW NOVEL

I am very excited to announce that my teen novel I am Isabella is at the editor's!

This has been a dream of mine for many many years, to write a novel where the main character has Crouzon syndrome. Isabella does!

The story is fictitious but I draw on my own and Melissa's experiences growing up with Crouzons. In the beginning of the story Isabella who is 13 years old, reveals to her Year Nine English class that she has Crouzon syndrome. She had kept her Crouzon syndrome a secret since leaving primary school. Issy had a facial surgery in Year Four which had made her face look 'normal' but her face was growing and changing back to how it was. Her eyes were becoming bulgy again and she was developing an underbite. It was time, Issy bravely decided.

(I have used Melissa's actual speech, with a bit of writer's licence, that she gave to her Year Eight English class this year).

The book follows Issy's first six months of Year Nine. It follows her through her search for her self-identity living with a facial difference. From rejection in HPE dance lessons, to jealousy, friendship ups and downs, to winning an Art Award, being a talented skateboarder and much more.

I am Isabella is a much needed read for any young teen growing up with a facial difference, and also for friends and family.

I am looking for a publisher so if you have contacts please let them know!

Issy Burgess is thirteen, in Year Nine at Pinnaroo High. The school year begins with Issy telling her English class her secret – that she has Crouzon syndrome. Something she has never done.

The year continues with a series of trials and triumphs. Anxiety attacks, hair disasters, bestie fights, braces and bouts of jealousy. Art awards, the school dance, mastering skateboard tricks and new friendships. This six month journey will see Issy struggle and grow as she begins the journey of finding her self-identity.

© 2012 by Jenny Woolsey

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bog 74 - It has been way too long!

Oh my goodness where has the year gone? I last blogged in May. My year which began in despair with my severe bout of anxiety and depression has progressed into great things!

After the thunderstorm comes the rainbow is cetainly true for me!
God works all things out for good, I can also vouch for!

In April I handed in my resignation as a teacher. It was with a very sad heavy heart that I did so. Teaching was my life. It was my identity. Who was I now? Could I still say I was a teacher even though I wasn't teaching anymore?  Of course I was still a mum and a wife - but I needed a job label - I was too young to be a retiree!

What labels do you have attached to you?

Coordinating the local high school's Community Education classes which I mentioned in my last blog has kept me very busy and has given me that new label I desired :) In July there became a position available to teach adult computer classes so I took that on as a new challenge - another new label :)

Over the year life has taken on a 'new normality'.

Having more time on my hands not teaching has enabled me to achieve two of my life goats - one to write a novel and two to start up an Australian support group for facial differences. How many people get to do that?

1) My novel:
I have wanted for many years to write a novel where the central character has Crouzon syndrome. I had written a few rough drafts though the years but nothing seemed right. With the knowledge I got from my writing courses and pointers from my mentor I disciplined myself to keep on keeping on, writing and editing, rewriting and editing... until I was finally satisfied with my final product. Both Melissa and Nick read the book and gave me feedback. They were both very critical and very good at telling me exactly what they thought!

The main character Isabella, 'Issy' is based on Melissa. The story has my own and Melissa's experiences woven into it, along with fictitious events.

The novel is called I am Isabella and it is now at the editor's. I am very excited! My next step will be to get it published which I pray God will work out for me.

2) Our Faces Support
I have wanted to start a support group for people who have facial differences, living in Australia. There is very little support here. I have already made youtube videos and founded facebook groups but I still feel that there is a need for people to get-together and to communicate outside of social media. I like the American support organisations - they are awesome. So in the last couple of weeks this has come to fruition. Of course we are in the early stages and I am recruiting members (free membership) to get it up and running but it is so exciting!

So stay tuned to find out what is going to happen next!

© 2012 by Jenny Woolsey