Hooboy, another F-word…

Kari Cole is one of my special Rebelle peeps–she’s also a finalist in the Paranormal category (YAY PARANORMAL!), and here she shares what being a Golden Heart® finalists means to her, and how to firmly deal with another kind of F-word. ❤ 

Last week on this blog, C.R. Grissom wrote about thinking it was some sort of fluke that her YA story, Mouthful, had earned a spot among the other finalists. I totally get that feeling, and would like to add another F-word: Fraud.

Merriam-Webster defines a fraud as: a person who is not what he or she pretends to be. You know, a scammer. A con artist. A sham. Cue the huge, blinking arrow pointing right at me.

This is my second ride on the Golden Heart Tilt-a-Whirl. Constant Craving, was a finalist last year, too. (It didn’t win.) Now, I should probably fess up that Constant Craving has made the rounds of the contest circuit. I think I submitted its first iteration as a short story to Writer’s Digest way back in December 2013. Oh, all right, it was probably more like in 2003 to The Buffalo News, but I had a kid who didn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time and I don’t really remember what I did back then. Okay? Jeez!

Any who, while iron butterflies dive-bombed in my stomach, I sent my book out to agents and editors, and waited. Responses trickled in, all playing some version of the Thanks, but… song. See? That proved it. Constant Craving stink, stank, stunk. That’s why it didn’t win, and didn’t sell. And therefore, I am a big, fat, effing phony. A fraud. It didn’t matter that Constant Craving and another story I wrote had already finaled in more contests than not. I was an imposter.

Hmm… Hadn’t I heard that somewhere before? Oh, yeah, right at the 2016 RWA national conference in San Diego, where the Golden Heart awards ceremony was. As the luncheon keynote speaker, Dr. Valerie Young, told us about Imposter Syndrome. How it zaps your confidence. How even the most accomplished women will chalk their successes up to luck rather than skill. Cue that damn blinking arrow again.

I remember sitting there, with my mouth hanging open, as I looked around the packed ballroom and saw several hundred women—many of them New York Times bestselling authors—all nodding their heads, too. How is this possible?

It took me a few weeks to process Dr. Young’s message, and figure out what it meant for my own writing. What did I learn? That like many women, my subconscious is full of mean, nasty, self-critical bulls**t. And what did I do about it? The same thing I’d do if a real person told me the things my own subconscious did—I flipped it the bird and told it to go covfefe itself.

Then, I edited my book. Again. With love in my heart for the characters who had become my friends. And I sent it out. Again. To the Golden Heart contest. But wait, my tale of self-doubt isn’t done. I liked my book. My critique partners liked my book. Hell, even my teenage son like it. But I knew that the judges wouldn’t. (Stupid, jerk-face inner voice.) So, the morning the Golden Heart calls were being made, I dillydallied getting started for the day and hopped in the shower. I had time after all. No one was going to call me. I had a nice lather going in my hair when my phone rang. Farrah Rochon is lucky she didn’t try to FaceTime with me.

Something clicked in my goofy brain as I ran around the house in nothing but a towel, screaming, and dripping shampoo suds all over the place: I’m not a fraud. I’m a writer. The only way I could be an imposter is if I don’t write. That’s what becoming a finalist this year has meant for me. Call it validation if you want, or even justification for not getting a “real” job. But me, I’m going to call it being a Rebelle.


Kari is a two-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, winner of both the 2015 Daphne du Maurier award and the Toronto Romance Writers’ Catherine. She lives in Upstate New York with her college-sweetheart, two way-too-smart-for-their-own-good sons, and a ridiculous labradoodle named for the bravest of Star Wars heroes, Artoo. She has a MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and has worked in sales, marketing, and human resources.

Kari writes paranormal romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is a member of several RWA chapters, including: Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal; Kiss of Death; the Golden Network; and the Capital Region Romance Writers, where she serves as Treasurer.



7 thoughts on “Hooboy, another F-word…

  1. A.Y. Chao says:

    Oh Kari, I loved your thoughts on being a Rebelle, and telling that F-word to go covfefe itself! I have to admit I’ll am one of those people who’d be nodding too. It’s such a struggle. LOL mom guilt (why I am writing, instead of spending time with my child? or doing laundry, or cooking… or grocery shopping, or household admin, or more school stuff for the PTA. Oh boy, the list goes on), then that terrible voice that whispers you’re not good enough. Stupid jerk-face inner voice indeed. Can’t wait to meet you and celebrate our Rebelle spirit!


    • kwcole2013 says:

      Absolutely. We can never do enough, are never good enough. I think most of that is in our heads, and sometimes we fling that at other women, too. We’re not perfect. We need to stop treating each other like we are.


  2. cgrissom says:

    Kari, so many f-words in this business. This is one that’s tripped me time after time. I sat in that same talk last year and had the same Are you f*ing kidding me moment.

    I read Alice’s comment above and nodded my head, too. I’m currently in fight mode (another f) with one of my best friends because my splintered focus (yep—see those dang f’s) allowed me to forget (<—) a friend and an important event in her life that I failed (!) to ask about.

    Pay attention to your writing, and another important ball drops from the sky. Sometimes work, family or friends fade into a kind of fugue state while our focus is on our computer. Then the big question arises—why did I do that? Why did I fail someone important to me on a long-shot? And the inner monologue grows louder. I need a white-noise machine for my brain. Something to drown out my personal demons.

    I cannot wait for my inner demons to meet yours. They can have a cuddle somewhere far away (preferably in Perdition) while we have fun (<–) in Orlando.


    • kwcole2013 says:

      We are so terribly hard on ourselves. We don’t expect men to be perfect all the time, why should we expect it of ourselves. And, most of the time, the only person standing in our way is ourselves. I’ve had the “Kari, you are fu**ing up your life” conversation about a hundred times with myself since I started writing. I’m trying to get out of my own way now.

      Looking forward to meeting everyone in person too. We can have a drink and tell our inner demons to go covfefe themselves.


  3. Melonie says:

    Those darn F words keep effing with us, don’t they? I can really appreciate your journey and yeah, when that call comes through a 2nd time it does feel a bit like validation, like that first one wasn’t that other f-word, like we aren’t that f-word. And the harshest critic is nothing compared to what our inner-voice can do. The inner critic is like Threepio (we’re doomed!) and the inner cheerleader is like Artoo (Watch out! Bleepity Bleep! I got this).

    Glad we get to ride this tilt-a-whirl together again, my Mermaid & Rebelle sister! Seeing you in Orlando will be a better F-word – FABULOUS.


    • kwcole2013 says:

      Lol. Can always count on you for the Star Wars references. I’m channeling my inner-Leia for my writing now. No giving up. No surrender–just pretend while you pull out a concealed blaster and shoot the damn enemy, whatever setback it is.


  4. Susannah Erwin says:

    Your journey demonstrates fortitude and fearlessness (I’m borrowing “go covfefe [your]self”). I have no doubt your future will be felicitous, fantabulous, and far-reaching – full of fortune and fascinating fun!

    I highly resembled the Dr. Young keynote. If anyone is interested, I recommend her book, “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.” It goes into more detail about Imposter Syndrome.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando!


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