As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Step On Me More - a novel with a message

The hostesses: Mary, Lyn, Lilly, Laverne, and Debby,  seated on the small stage in the grade school assembly hall, smile and welcome the students as Oliver leads them to their seats.

“I’d like to introduce Mary Rickson,” the principle says, as Mary stands and takes a bow. “Mary is here today to talk about her book, Step On Me More, co-written with Joan,  and  to discuss a topic that I expect all of us have experienced at least once in our lives - bullying. Mary would like to hear from anyone who has a story to share.”
Lyn is the first to raise her hand. “I have rather large feet. I was always laughed at and told I looked like a clown. My girlfriends were always showing off their new shoes, but I was too ashamed to let them see mine.” 

A girl wearing glasses shyly raises her hand. “The boys call me Four-eyes all  the time. I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses, but if I take them off, I  can’t see.”

“I get called fatty,” a boy says.

"And I get called names because I have a big behind," Lilly confesses.

"And I get taunted because I'm pale" says La Verne.

“I get made fun of because my clothes are old,” another boy says.

“I- I- I stutter,” a girl adds. "They laugh and imitate me.”

“I get called pumpkin mouth, because my teeth are crooked. But my parents can’t afford to have them fixed,” a boy says.

“I get called brainy because I’m smart. I didn’t know that was a bad thing,” a girl states.

“I get called stupid because I can’t read well,” another girl says.

“I get called beanpole,” a tall thin girl says.

“I get called pimple face,” a boy adds.

“I get called mouse because I’m so short,” a girl says.

Mary  stands. “I commend all of you for telling us your stories. What would you like to tell those who have been saying these cruel things to you?”

“I’d like to ask them how they would feel if someone made fun of them,” a girl replies.

“My Mom says nobody is perfect, and people should think before they speak,” a boy adds.

“I was always taught to do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Debby  says. 

“I want all of you to remember everyone is special in their own way.” Mary smiles. “And if you have said something cruel to someone, perhaps you might think about apologizing to them.”
Let's all thank Mary for being here today and sharing her wonderful book with us," the principle says as  they all give a huge round of applause. 

Mary smiles and waves. “There’s pizza, Chinese, Vegetarian, Mimosas, Martinis and soft drinks for everyone, so dig in. And remember, say something nice to the person standing next to you.” 

Today's introduction was written by Debby Grahl

Shelburne High School teachers Kailyn Hartigan and Lisa Stone have had enough. Bullying among students is reaching an all-time high, and the rest of the staff is either in denial or too afraid of repercussions to help address the problem. When Stephanie Moore—aka: Step On Me More—is welcomed by Shelburne High as the new principal, taking an anti-bullying stance becomes a dangerous game. One that could cost Kailyn and Lisa not only their careers, but the lives of the students they seek to protect.

The front courtyard of the school thronged with students, cat-calling to each other, talking and laughing in small groups. Happy students, waving and calling, “Hi, Ms. Stone,” to me as I made my way among them and headed toward the wide steps leading to the front doors. A flicker of doubt crossed my mind. Maybe Kailyn and I had jumped the gun on this bullying thing. As far as either of us could tell, nothing more had happened between Leigh and Callie, although it was obvious they were certainly avoiding each other in class. Jennifer had no more crying spells, that we saw, anyway, and had thrown herself into making art with an enthusiasm that warmed my heart.

I started up the steps, then froze as I heard a cry of pain from the patio to the right of the stairs, behind the flowering shrubs. I acted on instinct. Dropped my purse and books where I was and ran back down the steps and toward the sound. My heart sank as I reached the patio. Jennifer lay on the concrete surface, curled up in a fetal position, hugging her knees, as two other girls kicked and slapped her. Blood oozed from one of her elbows, and her beautiful, pale blonde hair was streaked with dirt and twigs from the ground. A smashed cell phone lay in pieces on the ground.

The epithets flew through the air, mixed with Jennifer’s wails.

I marched in and grabbed both girls by the arms. “Stop that! Right now.”

One of the girls was Callie, and the other had never been in any of my classes, but I knew her by sight. She was a cheerleader, popular and pretty, but rather loud and foul-mouthed. I had sent her to Craig with a note once, when I heard her sounding off in the hall.

“Tanya Marshall, what in the world are you doing? Get off her right now.”

Callie smirked at me and backed away, but Tanya aimed another kick at Jennifer that caught her in the knee. Jennifer screamed. I pulled Tanya back by force. She turned to face me. “You better let go of me. I’ll file a complaint against you, and you’ll lose your job. You can’t touch me, you know.”

“I have the right to intervene in something like this,” I told her, trying to control the fury in my voice.
I heard Michael behind me. “What’s going on here?”

I turned. “As you can see,” I snapped. “There’s been a vicious attack on a student by these young ladies. Will you take these two to the office, please, right now, and ask Mr. Dixon to call their parents? I need to get Jennifer to the nurse.”

“Yeah, take the baby to the nurse…” Callie sneered. Michael took them in tow, and led them away.
I knelt beside the sobbing girl. “Jen, Jennifer, come on, honey. Let’s go inside and get you cleaned up. I’ll call your mom to come get you and take you home for the day.”

She didn’t move. “I want to die,” she sobbed.

Born in Vermont, Mary Ricksen, being the daughter of a government official, spent her youth in several places. From New York, Texas, and Virginia, to the beautiful city of Ottawa, her family moved every three years to a new place. A great love of horses found her cleaning stalls and grooming for the privilege of just being near them.

Mary ia married and now lives with her two German Shepherds, a calico cat and her computer engineer husband.The people she met were diversified. And the scenery ranged from the aqua brilliance of the crystal waters of Florida, to the mountains of Vermont and North Carolina. She was always drawn to the beauty of Vermont. Now living in Florida, she still feels the call of those peaks and the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain.

It was the love of books that inspired her to write. Reading, being one of her favorite things, took her to places that she wanted to go. Somewhere between the pharaohs of Egypt and the whimsical world of Zanth, she found a voice. Writing led her to meet some of the most interesting people she has ever known. The mind of a writer is a wonderful thing.

To win a copy of Mary's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.
(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)


  1. Hi Mary - we're so happy to be able to host you today and help promote this very important book - it's not just a lesson to be learnt and a way of bringing notice to what is becoming a really bad problem in some schools and learning establishments - it's also a really good story and enough romance to satisfy most readers. Congratulations and I hope this sells and sells!

  2. Hi, Mary, what a great story. As one who was bullied in school I can relate to those who have experienced this. I'll be in and out today, but will check back in.

  3. Mary, thanks to you and Joan for finding a not-so-preachy way to get your message across. Oh, and there's a romance too, so what's not to love? I have a big behind now, not Beyonce big, but big enough, but when I was younger, I had a big nose. And then I broke it. And it was a big, crooked nose. I could have been Dustin Hoffman's sibling. lol! I got called Pinocchio, Captain Hook, Honker, and my older sister called me Witchy Poo from the Saturday Morning cartoon, HR Puff and Stuff. I hated it, but to keep people from knowing how much their teasing hurt, I'd make fun of it myself, sometimes, before they even mentioned my nose. But then when I was 23, I had a severe sinus infection and a doctor recommended surgery for a deviated septum. I jokingly asked if he could fix my nose while I was under and to my surprise, he said YES. I thought that was wonderful. I loved my new, smaller, no longer humped nose. BUT, when I went in to see him for my final post op visit, he asked if I'd like him to take a look at my chin. "My chin? What's wrong with my chin?" I asked him. And to my shock, he said, "You don't really have one." And he went on and on about how much better my profile would look if I got a chin implant. It hurt my feelings, but since my husband had married me as I was, and he didn't see anything wrong with my chin either, AND we didn't have the money to waste on a vanity surgery, I never went back to that surgeon. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with plastic surgery. Some people need it because of a serious or life threatening disfigurement. Others need it to feel better about themselves, which IS important. But, I had never thought about my chin until that doctor drew my attention to it. My point is, we should NOT let others dictate how we feel about ourselves. And I'm okay with my big butt. My menopausal belly fat, however, is another thing entirely! lol!

  4. I agree Lilly, I would never have 'plastic surgery' even though there used to be loads of things I'd like to have changed about the way I look - but then I had a good talk with myself and said 'anyone who doesn't like you for what you are rather than what you look like, isn't worth worrying about, and certainly can't be counted as a 'friend' I was much happier with myself after that. I certainly don't blame you for having your nose fixed when you had the chance though, that's quite different and didn't involve having unnecessary surgery, it was just additional. I don't see anything at wrong with your chin!

    1. Lyn you are an adorable pixie to me. And always have been!

  5. Thank you Lyn. I would look better if my chin were better, but then, I'd have to start picking myself apart. My teeth are crooked. I've gained a lot of weight since the 90's. I have wrinkles. My feet are flat....but what if we all started picking in the other direction? What if we all just started listing the good and see how that adds up? I have pretty eyes. I have full, thick hair. I've been told I have a nice smile...despite the crooked teeth, lol! I make people laugh. I am witty and sarcastic...okay, to some people that may not be a compliment, but I like sarcastic people when it's funny and not cruel sarcasm, so I'll take it! So, what do the rest of you LIKE about yourselves? Please share!

  6. BTW, do y'all remember the movie Flatliners? Kevin Bacon, Julie Roberts and Keifer Sutherland are med students who start experimenting with death and bringing people back from the dead? And along the way, they learn that EVERYTHING we do matters...especially how we treat others. Love this movie and it's so relevant to this topic of bullying. Great job with the excerpt, Mary. Love it, but it makes me want to throat puch Callie and Tanya.

    1. Lilly you are beautiful inside and outside to me!!

  7. I'd forgotten about Flatliners. You're so right, too. I quite like my hair, although it's so fine it gets very unruly if I don't have it cut fairly regularly, I think I have quite a good sense of humour, and like you, people tell me I have a nice smile.
    I think it's how people treat each other and the animals that share our planet that's the important thing though.

    I agree, that's a great excerpt, and having read the whole book I can say it's well worth reading, and keeps you turning the pages to find out if the bullies finally get their cummuppance!

  8. When I was young my glasses were thick as pop bottles. I can remember running home from school crying because I was called four eyes. And asked, "What's the matter, can't you see?" It's amazing how these scars can follow you into your adulthood. Now, most adults are mature enough not to make fun of people like children do, but there are still those who will say to me, "How do you know, you can't see." I've learned to ignore them, but it still hurts.

    1. Debby you see, I mean really SEE, better than people with 20/20 vision. And that is the truth!

    2. People always see better with their hearts than with their eyes. So you have 20/20 heart vision, Debby. :)

  9. Gosh Debby, that's awful, I used to wear glasses and get called 'four eyes' too as a child - but I can't believe adults could be so insensitive to you. As you say, all you can do is ignore them, but I know those remarks must sting.

  10. I have been trying all day to get in to make a comment. Thanks ladies for your remarks. It's sad to me to think that anyone especially those I care for, were ever bullied. I hope people get it and teach others that same message.

  11. Hi Mary, sorry to hear you've been having problems. I agree, there is absolutely no excuse for bullying, and it needs to be out in the open and talked about so that hopefully people can learn that bullying is cowardly and hurtful, and everyone is different and special in their own unique way. If we were all perfect and the same, we'd be identical clones and how boring would that be!

  12. It's friends like all of you that gives me the confidence to go out and do book talks in frunt of large groups. Although, I have to say it does help not being able to see them all looking back at me! LOL!

    1. You have a wonderful sense of humor, Debby!

    2. I agree, Lilly, and loads of talent too!

  13. Thanks my friends for being my friends and posting on a blog no one looked at but us! That my ladies is loyalty! LOL But, it is a great message and story to learn from/

  14. A great post & comments thank you. A very important message.


  15. Hi Mary,thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, I agree, this is such an important message, and something the victims don't always realise they can get help for.

  16. I am sorry I missed this amazing party...great message, great book!


This is an interractive blog - please feel free to pop in and comment throughout the Roast as much as you like - and remember to leave your email address if you wish to be put in the draw to win this week's prize.