I always believed cheerleaders to be wasted talent. From their annoying pom-poms to their attire that only sporting events deemed appropriate, I never could understand their importance. They were a waste of time and space. In school, I could barely tolerate being near one of them. Their bubbly laughs, glittered eye shadow, and perfectly placed hair ribbons made the nerdy part of me cringe whenever I was near them. In my eyes, they were an embarrassment.

Turns out, though, I was wrong about them. It didn’t take any large sporting event to convince me of my extreme error in judgment. Instead, it only took a small book-signing event in Owensville, MO.

Last weekend, I participated in a book-signing event at the local library in Owensville. While the drive to get there wasn’t too long, it was long enough for me to realize I wasn’t heading to a bustling metropolitan city. Heading to Small-Town, USA, I adjusted my expectations accordingly. Not anticipating a large crowd, I convinced myself this would still be a great opportunity to work on speaking about Catherine’s War to anyone that might happen to visit the library. I had so much success from my first book-signing in Jefferson County, I could only hope this day’s event would leave me feeling just as excited.

It didn’t disappoint.

When I arrived at the library, it had the same cozy feel as the town library I visited in my hometown growing up. It wasn’t large, but it oozed a friendliness I couldn’t help but immediately fall in love with. However, the warmth wasn’t just from the librarian, it came from my peers too. There were three other authors at the event, and we each represented a different genre of literature, ranging from children’s to mystery to science fiction. Although they were all from towns near Owensville, they didn’t treat me as an outsider. They showed genuine interest in where I came from and how Catherine’s War came to fruition. They made it easy to converse, and I found that I was just as eager to learn about their books and journeys in writing.

When they asked how a girl from the city ended up at a book-signing in Owensville, I realized it was because of the town’s cheerleaders. I explained that I had a cousin, Angie, who resided there and owned a local business. While my cousin could have easily just bought my book to show her encouragement, she didn’t do that. Instead, Angie shared my accomplishment with her friends and coworkers. One coworker, René, took the initiative to ask that the library purchase my book.

The simple acts of these two people brought Catherine’s War to Owensville. While they both simply could have kept the story to themselves, they didn’t. Their actions served as pom-poms and a megaphone. They were cheering me on because they wanted to, not because I asked them to. The encouragement that I felt from this small act made me realize how great it was to have my own cheering section.

Before long, one of my dear friends, Lindsay, entered the library. She had made quite the trek to come and have me sign her copy of my book. I introduced her as “the Lindsay from my book” (Acknowledgement Section). It felt amazing to see that she believed in me enough to make that trip. However, what uplifted me even more was when she visited the other tables and expressed interest in their work. She bought their books too. No one asked her to, but she did it to support their dreams. I realized she wasn’t just my cheerleader, she was theirs too. She left each of them feeling better about themselves.

The cheering was contagious. By the end of the day, regardless of who sold the most books, we, the authors, were cheering each other on. We shared advice, discussed past practices, and expressed words of encouragement to one another. In that small three-hour window, we had become a team. Without a doubt, the act of not just these previously mentioned women, but of every cheerleader, helped us get to that point.

On my drive back home, I thought about everyone that I had met that day. It made me realize how uplifting small acts of support can be for new writers. As a new writer, a person can easily feel like an underdog. It’s reassuring to know that there’s someone out there supporting the writer no matter the level of success.

Cheerleaders are like that. Rain or shine, they cheer on their teams with all their hearts. If the team stumbles and loses the game, their cheerleaders are still there, rooting for them with everything in them. While others may leave the game grumbling, complaining, and nitpicking how terrible a player/team is, cheerleaders never follow suit. While they may see a team’s faults, they look right past them and ignore them.

How amazing is it when we have these same types of people in our lives? I only hope that through my personal journey with Catherine’s War I’m able to inspire, encourage, and be the cheerleader for others that so many people have been for me.

But I think I’ll leave the acrobats to the professional cheerleaders. . .

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