I was never one of the cool kids growing up.
You know the kind I’m talking about. Pretty. Popular. The ones that always dressed well in the latest fashions. Knew the right slang catch phrases before everyone else did. Hung out with all of the other cool people, doing whatever cool people did. They sat at certain lunch tables that people like me didn’t even want to walk by. They dated other cool people and went to each other’s parties. They were a breed unto themselves.
If you remember the old Robert Redford / Barbra Streisand movie The Way We Were, you know what I’m talking about. Redford (in all his glorious perfection) was Hubbell. He was the ultimate in cool. Streisand was Katie—smart, frizzy-haired, abrasive—and madly in love with Hubbell. Opposites actually attracted in that movie, and Katie and Hubbell married. Of course, it was doomed from the start because they were so different. Years later, they run into one another at the movie’s end. Both had remarried and were happy—because they’d married people like them. Hubbell’s wife was picture-perfect; Katie’s husband was a smart and likeable nerd. Like was simply meant to be with like.
Growing up, I found that some of the cool, popular kids were actually nice to people outside the Cool Circle. They wore their popularity with ease, almost as if they weren’t aware of it. They were kind to everyone simply because they were nice people. It was refreshing to get to know one of them every now and then because it helped little Nerd Girl me realize that they were people, too. Even though I knew I could never be one of them, it was fun to get to know one of them away from their pack. A smart, athletic, handsome, and very kind popular guy named Gregg Golden comes to mind. He never seemed to judge me for my stupid glasses or skinny legs or bad haircut. He sat across the aisle from me in English and would joke around, ask questions, and basically treated me as if I were normal. That went a long way with my self-esteem (which seemed to hover around zero when I was 13).
I grew up to be a fairly well-adjusted adult and am happy with the way I turned out. Yet I suppose there’ll always be a small part of me that wished I were cool.
Well, today . . . I feel cool. Writers have very fragile egos. We have a lot of self-doubt and angst. But today I’m celebrating a small victory as a writer.
My first two historical romances have been nominated for RONE Awards! That makes me feel as if I’ve joined the Cool Kids’ table for lunch!!
RONE—Reward of Novel Excellence—is a prestigious honor for small and independent press authors. Like the Oscars, just being nominated is an honor. Of course, as many things in life, it will come down to popularity. The nominated books are opened to a readers’ vote, with the books receiving the most votes becoming finalists. Industry professionals read the finalists’ novels and then declare a winner this summer in various categories.
My first book, Music For My Soul, is in the medieval category, while my second published book, Outlaw Muse, is up for best American historical. It’s as if I’ve been nominated for Best Actress for two different movies in the same year. Not even Meryl Streep has accomplished that!
In the long run, I realize I probably won’t be a finalist—much less win. But right now, I feel like The Cool Kid who’s just been voted Most Popular or Homecoming Queen by the senior class. So I’m going to savor the feeling while it lasts…ahh…
In case you’d like to vote?
Outlaw Muse is up March 10-16:
Music For My Soul is up March 24-30: