Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheerleader or Nerd - Wacky Wednesday

By Joelene Coleman

I went to a parade Saturday to watch my granddaughter on a float (I hate parades in general. Grandchildren force you to do things you don't like). I watched the marching bands stroll by, followed by the cheerleaders jumping and whooping behind. My "Wacky Wednesday" topic presented itself, unfortunately, taking another embarrassing page from my life. From age 13 to 17, I lived through various stages of "nerdiness." However, this event at age 15 placed me at "Mega Nerd."

I always wanted to be a cheerleader - wear the cute little outfits on game day, and shake my "pom-poms." Cheerleaders got excused from school for away games, rode the team bus with the players, and always got the cute guys. Boys always wanted to date a cheerleader. It was like an ultimate code of acceptance from the other male chromosomes if your girlfriend was one. I wanted to be "that girl" who dated "that guy" and was naïve enough to think I had a chance.

I signed up for tryouts. A few things became immediately clear that I hadn't given a second thought to. Besides coming up with my own cheer and making a costume, I'd have to pull off some amazing spine damaging entrance and exit stunts. In front of the student body. Piece of cake? My brain had been abducted by my hormones. All I could see was me and the Quarterback cuddling under the bleachers, me wearing his letterman jacket and his class ring dangling on a chain close to my heart. Yeah, I could do this.

I wish my brain blocked this traumatic memory, because my road to becoming a cheerleader proved disastrous. I came up with my 4-liner masterpiece of prose, destined to wow the judges. Made my pom-poms. But my outfit? Oh dear Lord! My girlfriend and I picked a pattern for a cutesy one piece jumper thing, but her mother helped her. My mom didn't sew so my jumper bulged in the wrong places and the seam down my backside wanted to tuck between my "cheeks."

Every day I practiced in the back yard on the soft grass. I had cartwheels down, round-offs perfected, and ten years of ballet and contortionist gymnastics insured I could do the splits. The one thing I couldn't master was a backward flip. I tried repeatedly, but something about thrusting my body backward onto palms facing an unnatural direction, then propelling my legs over my head and landing in a soft bounce on the balls of my feet, proved impossible. I fell sideways, rolled into an overdramatized summersault, but never an actual handspring.

Two days before tryouts and still, no flip. I adjusted my routine to add a couple extra round-offs, hoping no one kept count. "D-day" arrived and I spent most the day inside the girls' bathroom. When 3:30 rolled around, I felt weak. But there was no copping out. I lined up in the locker room to get my number pinned on my back, just above the "wedgy line." I watched the contestants before me, taking mental notes on what worked, volume, and how many back flips. Everyone, including my girlfriend, managed at least one off. Well hell.

The girl right before me did four back flips for her entrance! The crowd loved her! I felt a trickle of sweat scurry between my breasts and my breath lodge in my throat. Of course she had to wow the crowd with a fantabulous exit, too! My cartwheels and round-offs would prove lackluster, if not downright hilarious. My name was called. It all went downhill from there.

I ran enthusiastically from the gym door, noting the blue tape where I was to begin the "wow factor." The wedgy tightened and I fought to not run knock-kneed, reminding myself the crowd would not see my backside. I tossed my pom-poms and performed a perfect round-off the minute my toe edged the blue mark. Points earned. A couple of cartwheels landed me square on the next mark. Another plus. I vaguely remember doing my cheer, because when I gathered my fluffs of crepe paper and turned, panic ensued. The crowd was much larger than I anticipated, and behind the panel of judges sat the football team. The Quarterback. On the bench beside him, the jacket, on his finger, the class ring. I had no choice. If I wanted an inkling of a chance at winning my prize, I'd have to do a back flip - one where I'd end in the splits.

I started my descent. Life unfolded in slow motion. Two round-offs executed with precision, and then…my back arched in a tight curve. Hands slapped the polished hardwood angled enough to support my weight or break my wrists if things went awry. I studied the wood grain of the slats, feeling my legs leave solid ground; my wedgy exposed and tucked even tighter in fear. When both appendages lined up over head, I felt my shorts slip! Holy crap! My underwear was exposed!! (Did I wear good ones?) Seconds felt like hours before my toes eased onto the floor and my body propelled upright, ponytail swinging over my red face. Immediately, I pushed my leg forward into the splits, but I'd landed wrong. My left foot was forward more so than my right and I couldn't shuffle. My legs spread and the force of my body coming out of the flip slammed me against the floor. Any chance of having children in the future disappeared. A searing pain radiated up my leg and I cried out…luckily covering the sound of the "fart."
I didn't make it to the final round. My prize? A pulled ligament, not the Quarterback. However, I did pull off my one and only back flip, even if I split my shorts in the process. The upside to my downfall? I still got the letterman jacket and class ring, only it ended up being from the captain of the tennis team, not the football team, but proved a better prize all around. He did confess after several months of dating, it was my exposed pink panties that won his heart that day. I never asked if he heard the fart. It didn't matter. He like me anyway. Wedgy and all.

So why share this embarrassing moment from the page of my life? Because life is a "blackboard"…always another lesson being scribbled across it and once we pass the pop quiz, erased and ready for the next. Trying out for cheerleader was my first attempt at stepping out of my "comfort zone" and doing something really scary. I'm very shy (I know, shocker to most of you). But I discovered when I wanted something bad enough, I was willing to go up against the fear. Each time we stretch beyond our limits, we grow. All my shortcomings, embarrassing moments, and shining achievements have shaped who I am. (I'd like to believe it's the "shining moments" that tipped the scales and shoved me out of a Size 4).

Tell us about a time you stepped out of your comfort zone. Was it to get a boys attention or was it the first time you let someone read something you'd written? Was it an embarrassing moment or a shining success?

Thanks, Joelene, for sharing your wonderful sense of humor with us. To check out other hilarious Wacky Wednesday posts visit Joelene at http://www.jcolemanauthor.blogspot.com/.

Joelene Coleman writes young adult as Harley Brooks
"Untangling superheroes from their capes."
Joelene creates journeys of discovery, inspired by all the "first times" of youthful innocence. She loves writing in the young adult romance genre because in her mind, she is still seventeen and think boys are hot!

When she needs to escape life, Joelene jumps on her Harley Davidson in search of her new muse. She doesn't believe in "I can't," and has stepped so far out of her "box," she has no idea where it is anymore. Besides, she's never been comfortable with square - she prefers round...."give what you can and the good will come back to you. Here's "winking" at you!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Now?

Can you believe a month has come and gone since my debut release, Two Brothers, hit the stores? Okay, maybe you can, but for me it has been an amazing five weeks that flew by, setting a speed record all its own.

Last week, with the hype of the first few days and weeks having waned, it hit me that somewhere, someone I’ve never met could be reading MY book. It was a breathless moment for me, a humbling one.

I am amazed every time I get an e-mail from someone saying they read my book and loved it. “Couldn’t put it down,” are my new favorite words to hear. And while I will never get tired of hearing people's thoughts on Two Brothers, I also know it is time for me to get my butt back in the writing chair.

Before we do that, here are some of the best moments of the past month:

For almost two weeks straight, I sat in the number one spot for bestselling suspense e-book on All Romance E-books.

I stumbled upon a review blog, where another book was being reviewed, and in the comments section a lady mentions Two Brothers as one where the characters stuck with her for days after reading.

Holding the actual book in my hands.

My family and friends have gone out of their way to make me feel like a celebrity and are actively pimping me out to just about everyone they meet. Co-workers are bringing the book into the office and asking me to sign. This just tickles me.

These are the things that take me by surprise, that make me go WOW. These are the things that a writer, this writer anyway, dreams about, but doesn’t expect to have happen until they hit the level of Nora Roberts. I am grateful to everyone who has so openly shared their enjoyment of the story.

So, what now? What is in the works?

The novella I’m working on, Undercover, is coming along nicely. I hope to have it finished by the end of September and it should be available sometime the first part of November. This is a story about a female police officer sent to high school as a student to bring down drug dealers and about finding love when you least expect it.

Once Undercover is complete, I will begin edits on The Daughter, which is scheduled for release January 2012. From there, I'll move on to book three, Emotional Warfare, which is in draft form and needs to be polished. Or as I like to say, I have it sketched out and now all I need to do is fill in the color.

And to think, the journey has just begun.