Demystifying Contests, Winning, and My Results

When I discovered I was a contest finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Contest (that’s a mouthful), I felt like I already won. I knew many had participated, so I was grateful to be selected. I had noticed the finalist distinction on book covers and in descriptions. Whoa!

I didn’t understand how the prizes would be distributed.

There were six in my category since there was a tie, so would they start with 6th place? I checked out past winners. RMFW listed the first place winner and the rest in alphabetical order underneath. I was mystified, baffled. I held a blank, open-mouthed, “What?” kind of stare while trying to make sense of it. I’ll admit, I’m easily confused. I would find out Saturday night.

Some of the past winners had entered from as far away as Australia, Japan, and United Arab Emirates.

Wow. All they needed to do was join RMFW. I figured they had won a contest and then continued entering others with the same manuscript.

When I checked into the conference, I received my name tag and a finalist ribbon. It was an honor to wear it and a great icebreaker. Many others wore lots of ribbons – volunteers, authors, presenters, agents, editors…

The conference was amazing. My head is still spinning from all the information and sensory overload. The night of the award ceremony, I sat with a great group of new and old friends: super sweet agent, Rachelle Gardner, me, and old hands at winning, Kim Lajevardi and Judy Rose.

rmfw-conference-2016

I met another contestant from my category, Craig Holt, from Washington and wondered if any others were in attendance. He had already finaled in the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and one other contest. Since his manuscript was on a roll, he planned to enter in several more. Just like I thought.

The emcee started with action/thriller finalists, so I had to wing it. *gulp*

I walked onstage and waited for the rest of the contestants to join me. After a minute of standing alone, Craig and Val Moses joined me on stage. When they announced Val’s name as “the first finalist,” she didn’t understand what they said. Neither did I. She walked past me to receive her certificate. I was announced as second finalist and for a moment thought that meant 2nd place. I was thrilled until she announced 3rd place, who wasn’t there to receive the award. Oh! That’s when I understood what was going on. Craig took 2nd, then Charles Kowalski, who lives in Japan (the same guy who won in 2013!), took 1st. I figured I took fifth place by the order of announcement.

I talked to my friends who explained there were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places and the rest remained finalists. Ohhhhhhh! I was glad of that. I’m not 4th, 5th, or 6th. THE FOREBODING is listed in alphabetical order on the list of finalists. If I had called my book FOREBODING, I would have jumped higher on the list. Ha!

One of the prizes in being a finalist was my first pick of an agent or editor to pitch, which can be a nerve-wracking experience.

I’ve had some nightmarish pitching sessions, so I always get a little nervous. Okay. I get reeeeeeally nervous. One time the agent stared at me without blinking and I thought my poor pitch had sent her into a catatonic state. She finally said she didn’t represent my genre. Then, there was the time when I couldn’t complete sentence without the agent interrupting me to tell me how I was pitching all wrong. That pitch became a lecture and our Skype interview ran overtime and cut her off mid-sentence.

This time, I sat down with a lovely editor from a publishing giant. Her interest and questions put me at ease. After requesting pages (YAY!), I told her my plan to have a second draft of another thriller done by the end of November. Then I launched into my Boob Reports and how I want nipple tattoos and plan to publish the book after I hit five years cancer-free . Talk about relaxed. She mentioned it was good to include future projects in a pitch to convey that I am a career writer. Good to know. I’ve got lots of projects lined up.

Another huge bonus of entering in the contest happened on Monday when I opened up the envelope with my certificate and read notes from the judges. They blew my mind and gave me the best advice EVER. I sat down to study the notes at 9:00 AM and tweaked my manuscript until 5:45 PM! Now it’s a cleaner, clearer story. Then I tackled their notes on my synopsis and answered their questions. Now its 925 words. Most agents want a 500-600 word summary. Oh, well. Simplifying it will be tomorrow’s project. Synopsis is the bane of my existence. 

Now that contests no longer mystify me, watch out Japan, Australia and United Arab Emirates. I may enter THE FOREBODING in your local Writer’s Conference.

Do you know anyone who can rewrite a manuscript in Japanese or Arabic?

So I came to the conference a winner and I left a winner.

Celebrating with my finalist certificate!

Do you enter contests? Do you plan to enter contests in the future?

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Friday is the next Drop and Hop blog party to meet bloggers and gain new subscribers. Be ready to drop a link and dance!

Exciting Book News and a Big Leap in the Right Direction

InExciting Book News and a Step in the Right Direction one of my first classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, the meditation instructor told us to ask the universe the ultimate question. “Who am I?”

I asked, “Should I be a writer?” I mean, I spend a majority of my time writing blog posts, screenplays and books. My first book took years. What if I’m supposed to be doing something else with my life? Kind of a frightening thought, right?

After our last class and an amazing experience over four days in Whistler, BC, I met my daughter, Courtney, at a restaurant. While we chatted over lunch, my phone buzzed. It was noisy and I couldn’t hear the caller. The number was similar to my oncologist’s and I thought someone was calling from the RMCC. Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. I’m three years out and had scheduled a six month checkup for a few days from then. Anything related to cancer makes my heart stop.

“This is Pamela Nowak from RMFW. Your manuscript, THE FOREBODING, has been selected as a finalist in the Colorado Gold Contest.

OH! Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!!

“Wow. I can’t believe it! Thank you so much!” She gave me the details, we hung up, and I told Courtney.

Shocked and excited, I had to go outside to DANCE!

Exciting Book News and Big Leap in the Right Direction.

Courtney took this shot through the restaurant’s window.

The universe heard me loud and clear. I’m on the right track. This is my debut novel and the result of a huge learning curve. I think of it as my thesis from five years of intensive study through all kinds of classes, including the school of pervasive and incessant rapping on my pointed head.

This coming Saturday night, September 10th, six of us will stand up in the front of the room and the winners will be announced for best action/thriller. Sure I’m nervous, but honestly, I already feel like a winner. Haven’t you heard that overused line a million times on awards shows? It’s the truth. No matter what place it gets, I’ve already won.

THE FOREBODING is a finalist! How cool is that?

6th place or 1st, my husband, Danny, will be there to record another happy dance.

How do you react to good news? Do you think you’re on the right path?

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It’s always a Wild Ride!

 

Wild Rider Magazine – Crush Procrastination, Boost Your Blog and Writing

Life Hacks * Tips * Blogging * SEO * Movies * Links * Inspiration

This is the second issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

In school or out for good, here are a few tips and life hacks to help you beat procrastination and links to improve your next blog post or writing project. We all want to do that, but a lot of things can get in the way. Procrastination or lack of focus (Wait. What was that sparkly thing over there?), fear of missing out on social media, and the lack of new information can throw our latest WIP (work in progress), into a death spiral. We can only get so much from the internet.

I’ve put together Ten Ways to Help You Reach Your Goals.

Magazine issue explores procrastination, boosting your blog and writing

Fight Procrastination:

We’ve all faced procrastination. It can lurk in the shadowy background of any project. It comes out of hiding as soon as we don’t want to work hard, we lose interest, or can’t solve a problem.

Most of us find it hard to disconnect from the Internet. We plan to get our work done, but with temptation only one click away, it can be super tough. I looked into a few apps and then realized we could do most of this on our own.

Here are some tips on combatting this enemy:

Reset your notifications. Popups used to drive me nuts while writing. I tried shutting down a few of them, but ended up turning all of them off. If there’s a fire somewhere, I’ll get a phone call.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. I’ve done this several times to make myself settle down and start on a writing project. Once the 25 minutes are up, I either quit, reset the timer, or continue writing.

I also have use this method for writing blog posts, limiting myself to 25 minutes. Sometimes I spend hours and days on posts only to get the same amount of views. Nope. I didn’t use a timer on this one.

There’s a timer on your phone or you can use this site to countdown.

Make a list of goals. If I don’t write them down, I space out half of them. I bought a daytimer in January and make a list and check off at least a couple items every day. I have long term goals in the back of it along with contest entry deadlines. I know many people make lists on their phones and that’s great, but there is something about physically crossing them off that gives me an extra special sense of gratification. I’m all about gratification and rewards. Promise me a gold star and I’ll work for it.

#UNPLUG4HOURS.  Announce to your social media friends that you will “peace out” for a few hours. You’re on the honor system and could lurk, but if you comment or Like something, you’ll be busted. I use #unplug4hours on Twitter. It helps me stay on track when I’m having a hard time focusing. For more on unplugging check out my post called Unplug 4 Hours. It works!

Twitter. Find a posse of writers trying to finish a project and meet up on Twitter or Facebook. Do a writing sprint and meet up again to give your buds virtual high fives.

Check Out These Links for Writers and Bloggers:

Read on to find a list of links to great websites, podcasts and classes. But lets start with a movie. Didn’t you love watching movies in school?

What the movie Blair Witch Project can teach you:

The first Blair Witch movie proved you didn’t need a stellar cast or elaborate sets to make an intense movie. With one view from a movie camera lens it created and executed tension so taught, it was exhausting to watch. Have you been told you need to create tension in a scene? You need to make your reader care what happens to your protagonist? This is the movie for you. The sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, comes out September 16th although this one seems bent in the horror direction.

Links for Writer’s Conferences and Podcasts.

It’s not too late to find a writing conference. Check out the Association of Writers and Writing Programs at AWP.org. I will attend The Colorado Gold Conference in Denver September 9-11. See you there!

The Writer’s Life will link you up with 15 writer podcasts. There are many tips and interviews to explore.

Use iTunes? Then check out The Open University for all kinds of free classes. Don’t have a Mac? Check out The Open University website and search for a variety topics.

Follow this Website. You’ll be glad you did:

I found Donald Maass’s blog, Writer Unboxed, and check it frequently for insightful writing and business tips. I also use their search bar if I’m looking for something in particular. Donald posts once a month and always blows my mind. A new article is posted every day by knowledgeable Writer Unboxed authors.

See How Your Site Ranks.

Ever heard of Alexa? Well there are probably quite a few in the world, but only one ranks your website. With Google constantly changing their logarithms, mine has been on a roller coaster ride for months. I still check once in a while for kicks and giggles.

Content is key, so the aforementioned links could help you.

SEO information from the experts. 

Now that you’ve returned from summer distractions, posting more regularly may also help your rank. Who knows? For SEO information, read MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday. Let me know if something works for you.

So now you should be ready to rock your new projects and learn something new. You can kick procrastination, and take your blog and writing project to another level. You might want to start by making a list.

Click here for last month’s issue of Wild Rider Magazine.

Click for more of the Wild Ride.

Any comments or questions? Maybe you can think of something to add that may help another Wild Rider.

Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

How think more creatively

Most of us would like to think more creatively. I would. As human beings, we dream every night and play out all kinds of creative scenes. Writing is my thing, so I want my mind to be filled with new thoughts. I love it when new characters, scenes or plot ideas pop into my head, but I wish they would appear more often. With such an over-active mind, how do I do that?

In one of my first meditation classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, I learned that up to 90% of our thoughts are old and repetitive.

Wow. I consider myself a creative thinker, so I was horrified that much of my time is wasted.

The instructor explained there are many kinds of old thoughts. The most common are negative. We play out scenes where we have felt loss or have been wounded long ago. They’re on a loop. We replay them over and over again. There is nothing we can do about these scenes. They happened. They’re in our past. Most of the time these loops make us feel bad, guilty, or fill us with regret. Not only do we hold them in our minds, we hold them in our muscles, our gut, our heart, our bones. It’s not healthy.

We think about the people in our lives that don’t understand us.

They can live in the present, but the memories imprint and then we regurgitate our latest conversations. They may be one of our acquaintances, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Their negative impact can hold us back in some way when their unkind words make us doubt ourselves. We don’t need more doubt. We have enough as it is. Everyone is on a path, but these people seem to trip us up. These “viral” loops in our brain make us feel inadequate. For some strange reason, we continue to regurgitate them anyway. We add them to our already heavy load. We are sensitive human beings.

On top of that, we have worries and fear.

Oh, my God. They are the worst. We all have them. They live in our future. We make plans and try to control what happens. A certain amount of planning is important, but what if the expectations become huge? It can paralyze us. I have held off sending emails that could further my career in writing because of the fear of a typo, an awkward sentence or a rejection. Instead, I hesitated and had to build up my confidence before pressing send.

There is also the fear of choosing the right path. What if we made a wrong turn somewhere? We may have faltered, twisted and turned around, or may have been seduced by sparkly things along the way. How do we know?

resolutions illustrationAll of these thoughts weigh us down. They take up the majority of our time. In order to free up space for creativity, we shouldn’t think about something that happened last month or ten years ago. The negative people in your life? They aren’t worth your time either. Obsessing about the future doesn’t help since it’s more out of our control than we think and it never turns out exactly how we plan, anyway. So make your plan and move along.

Sound easy? It is.

I say this because I stumbled upon part of this technique before the yoga adventure.

When I received a request for my full manuscript, I was so excited! Then I panicked. Over the previous two weeks, a few new ideas had popped into my head. There were a couple inconsistencies that needed to be fixed. Since they had bubbled up at weird times during the day, I hadn’t written them down. I couldn’t remember what they were. I was leaving town! I had a doctor’s appointment at 2:00! It was noon! I had two hours!

What would I do?

My stomach knotted while all kinds of negative thoughts popped into my head. I didn’t have time to sit and read through 370 pages, but I wanted to send it as soon as possible. Timing is everything.

I stared at my laptop on the kitchen counter and then I looked down at the rug. It was worth a try. After getting comfortable on the floor, I took a deep breath and tried to clear my frantic mind. I concentrated on my breath (this may sound weird), and stared at the insides of my eyelids. I took several deep breaths and thought about my main character. Then I drifted over (and I mean barely thought about), a few plot points and BAM! Those five corrections popped into my head.

Instead of thinking, I freed my mind and listened.

This happened because I calmed myself and stepped away from the source of stress. Breathing does that. In two three, out two three. Over and over until the heart rate slows and our brains fill with oxygen.

In the case above, I had thought about these corrections before, but only momentarily. I had been in that creative space when they were formed, so I had to get back into that level of calm and relaxed thinking in order to bring them back.

If you’re facing a brain block, sometimes it gets worse if you try to force it. That’s when we are using the wrong part of the brain. I don’t believe good books get written with the cerebral cortex. It’s too logical. Creative thinking has to come from that dreamlike state where the book flows like a movie. I write what I see in my mind’s eye.

I set aside time to write creatively and try to hit between 1000-2000 words. If I’m having a problem settling down, I do what I did when I panicked. I slow my breathing. I think about my last scene and the characters. I try to come up with the most interesting event that could happen, the worst-case scenario, or a way to reveal something new. Then I start writing.

At the festival, I learned another way to become more creative. By letting go of all those negative, unwanted, or unneeded thoughts, the brain can flow to new ideas . The process of letting go makes room for them.

Imagine them as black smoke deep inside your bones, your muscles, your gut. Breathe them out. Get rid of them. You don’t have the time for old negativity.

It’s funny, how it feels weird to let them go. It’s as if we’ve clung to them for protection, but they don’t protect us. They hurt us. They keep our wounds open, so they don’t heal.

The first three days of the festival, all of my old wounds broke wide open. It was scary, at first to be so vulnerable. I had to think about them, so I could finally release them.

Negative memories and thoughts hold us back. They undermine our confidence. We’ve learned our lessons. We don’t need reminders of misunderstandings or mistakes. They need to go back to where they belong. In our past.

resolution illustrationI thought I had to go out and fix everything by doing, but I was wrong. I needed to accept who I am and chill. Everything will ebb and flow the way it’s supposed to if we trust we are on the right path and keep working hard toward our goals. We need to quiet our minds, so we can listen to our sub-conscious thoughts, stop forcing everything to solve problems, and be.

We are human beings after all.

Are you able to let go of negative thinking? How does the creative process flow for you?

 

Click for more adventure on my Wild Ride.

Another inspiring post for you!

 

Warning! Wanderlust Adventure Ahead

practicing yoga in tree pose near a pond for WanderlustWhen my daughter, Courtney, asked if I’d be interested in going to Wanderlust, I said, “Sure!” I’m always up for traveling, but had no idea what she was talking about. Last week, she sent me a video of a class we’ll be taking. I laughed until I cried.

I hope no one gets hurt…

Wanderlust – Whistler 2016, is a four-day yoga festival that includes everything from the obvious, (yoga) and meditation to paddle-boarding, hiking and rocking out to DJs at night. I signed up. After all this isn’t my first yoga rodeo.

In seventh grade, I took a class as an elective at Our Lady Queen of Peace. I was hooked. I loved the relaxed atmosphere and how it slowed my active mind. I continued my interest through college. For a few years after having kids, I took a class poolside at a beautifully landscaped Boulder home. When the sessions became more aerobic than meditative, I dropped out.

It has been a few years since I’ve really been into yoga. With wrist and knee issues, I recently attended a few classes in Boulder to test my body. With a pad under my knees, I could do everything, in restorative, gentle yoga, anyway.

I thought I was good to go.

Courtney instructed me to sign up for all of the classes on her schedule, so I blindly clicked away. Last week, she sent me an email and asked if I had read the class descriptions. Of course not. I rarely read instructions.

One of the classes we’re taking is Acrovinyasa. She sent this video and I laughed until I cried.

We’ll be partners. I assume I’ll be on the bottom. I just watched the video again and it still cracks me up. Think of me spinning around like a top next Thursday. Ha! Still laughing.

My husband, Danny, is coming with us. His yoga themed bad dad jokes have been hitting me in waves. He is running two 5Ks as part of the event and will go on a hike, but he also signed up for a couple of yoga classes. There is hope. I think I’ll buy him that guy’s bandana. Could be a good look for him since he’s planning on walking around town with a cross-body yoga mat and a water bottle. Ha!

I’m really looking forward to the classes, especially the ones involving positivity and opening up the mind to creativity. I truly believe writers, musicians, and artists get into a creative flow that seems to come out of nowhere. It’s why I write with a vague idea of my plot points and could never use an outline. Whenever I concretely think about what should happen next in my book, I go into “deer in the headlights.” Instead, I imagine the characters and setting, and the scene rolls in my head like a movie.

Wanderlust should be a mind bender. I hope my body bends too. I can’t afford any breakage.

Don’t worry, Courtney and Danny will take lots of pictures. Remember, I have no shame.

More Wild Rider adventures.

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Are you into yoga? Have you been to Whistler or Vancouver? Is Acroyoga for you?

Wild Rider Magazine – The Premier Issue

Apps * Movies * Twitter * Blogging * Life Hack * Recipe * Inspiration

Wild Rider Magazine Discoveries from the web and my wild lifeHappy TGIF, Wild Riders!

Welcome to the premier issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

I had been toying with a Friday bi-monthly magazine to share highlights of the newsworthy, including tips, hacks and a sweet recipe, so here it is.

App News: Pokemon Go! Why you should give it a go.

Heard of Pokemon? I remember my son, Kelly, being too old for it while his sister, Courtney, beat all the boys at school. The playing cards are still in a binder in her room. If you’ve been wondering what everyone is doing while walking around looking down at their phones, they are probably engaged with the new app, Pokemon Go!

Before you groan and tune out, let me tell you why this is brilliant. Kelly just moved to the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend, Leksy, downloaded the app and walked all over LA until 4:00 AM. last Saturday night. They ran into several people while trying to find “gyms” (places where you are challenged to win points). Soon they traveled in a posse meeting many others along the way. Seems like a great way to make new friends, get some fresh air and exercise.

Having a problem getting out of the house? Download the app. I did. You can find me on the app at Soosiemon walking with my eyes glued to my phone somewhere on Pearl Street, Boulder.

Movie News:

Have you ever noticed how many books and movies feature writers? I guess some authors hang on to the idea, “Write what you know.”

Top literary agent, Donald Maass, tweeted this news:

Two major surprises. I had no idea Thomas Wolfe was such a dick and who knew Jude Law could pull off a southern accent? Looks like a great movie.

Twitter contests for authors of unpublished books:

For everyone who has a book to pitch, this is for you.

There are several Twitter pitch contests for writers who have finished their novels and are ready to publish. #Pit2Pub and #PitMad are popular hashtags among many others that give us a chance to pitch our books to literary agents and direct to publishers.

Tweet a 140 character hook:

Who is your main character? What’s the inciting incident?  What are the stakes?

If an agent or editor “favorites” or gives your tweet a heart, then you’ve won! Check out their tweets to find out how to send your manuscript. But only send it after you’ve happy-danced around your kitchen at least once.

The next #PitMad is September 8th. The next #Pit2Pub is January 18th, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to write a book to pitch.

Check your website’s loading time:

Do you think your site loads pretty fast or does it take for freakin’ ever? You don’t want potential readers to give up while the tiny wheely thingamajig spins.

Click to Pingdom.com and find out how many seconds it takes. It will compare your site to the loading time of others and give you a percentile and grade rating.

When I posted large photographs, mine became slothlike. After reducing their size, it cut the loading time in half. Widgets can also add seconds.

See how fast your blog loads.

Life hack of the week:

I have a million of these. My dad was the original MacGyver, so it’s probably genetic.

Being a writer, I stare at my computer screen for hours on end. The knots in my neck become gargantuan. It makes me really sleepy since the blood doesn’t flow properly.

Tennis balls to the rescue. Lay down on the floor. Place one of them under your neck and roll it around until you find the painful spot. Push down on it in a circular motion. I stacked two of them with one hand to really hit the spot. After two minutes of massage, I rested on the floor then slowly rose to my feet. I could feel the difference. No afternoon nap today. Yay!

A recipe for sweet readers:

I found my daughter’s recipe for brownies and made them last week. They were super easy and delicious, so I had to share.

Courtney’s Chocolate Brownies

Prep time: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. 16 Brownies.

2/3 cup butter or margarine

5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces.

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts – optional.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with shortening.

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Or heat in microwave 30 seconds at at time. Stir at intervals. Cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.

Chocolate sweetness, viola!

Inspiration for the weekend:

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things in life can hold you back? Calling an old friend, making an appointment, going to the gym. There are so many things that eat at us. It takes so little effort and yet the payoffs can be huge.

 

I hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Click for more of my Wild Adventures.

You Need to Jump

Lured by the rush of adrenaline and weightlessness, Hank Caylor and his friend planned to jump. They entered the revolving door of the Embassy Suites Hotel, slipped past security and the front desk. The two-story escalator took them to the mezzanine. They dashed to the elevator. After riding up to the 38th floor, they made their way to the roof and climbed onto the ledge. With less than 400 feet and mere seconds from the impact of concrete, there was no room for error. BASE jumping is illegal in Denver. They had been warned.

BASE jumper on ledge of building

Hank and his friend dropped their gaze to the street below. While timing the traffic lights, so they wouldn’t get hit by a car or truck, the wind picked up.

Hank hesitated. His friend jumped. His parachute opened and he landed on the street. Crowds formed.

The longer Hank waited, the higher the risk that someone would run inside the hotel to tell security. They would call the cops. Security could be on their way to the roof already. He didn’t want to get busted.

He jumped.

At first he sailed down in a free fall, hands and legs splayed out. The rush of air whipped through his hair, stung his eyes and screamed in his ears. As he dropped, he pulled the ripcord of his parachute. But a sudden burst of wind blasted between the skyscrapers.BASE jumpers off antennae

It spun him around. Instead of floating to the street, the gust slammed him into the side of the building. His body smashed through a plate glass window on the 21st floor.

My heart pounded while Hank Caylor told me his story. I met him while he worked as an electrician in our home in 2000. He was recovering from that infamous BASE jump. Ironically, my husband and I lived on the 35th floor of the apartments at The Embassy Suites Hotel for two years when we were first married. I could picture everything.

I knew Hank survived, he stood right in front of me, but I hung on his words like I clung to the building beside him. It was the ultimate cliffhanger. Hundreds of stitches, jail time, and an acquitted lawsuit weren’t a part of his plan, but at least he took a chance. He didn’t wimp out.

So what does this have to do with you? Why should you jump?

You need to create cliffhangers in your life in order to challenge yourself.

Attaining a new goal can be exhilarating and can take you to a whole new level in life’s journey, but you have to be willing to take the leap and risk crashing in failure.

My son applied to an exclusive music production school. It required a detailed application, a Skype interview, submitting original music, and answering personal essay questions. He created a cliffhanger. While we waited to hear if he’d been accepted, he flew out to Los Angeles and took a tour. Impressed with the direction of the school and its graduates, the pressure to get in increased ten-fold. We all sat on the edge of our collective seats. Last Tuesday, he received an email. It contained a fantastic acceptance letter saying he had the talent they were looking for. Go Kelly! 

My daughter works in digital marketing, but has always been physically active. She participated in ballet, high school pom-pom, and CU’s Dance Team for half-time shows at football games. Now that she is working full-time, she goes to the gym on a regular basis and calls herself a “gym rat.” She is taking an intensive course to become a personal trainer to supplement her income. She created a cliffhanger. So far she’s passing with flying colors. Go Courtney!

Both of them have climbed up on the ledge, looked down and then jumped.

I can’t wait to see where they land in the next year or two. I sit on the edge of my seat and watch.

I’ve taken a huge risk in investing thousands of hours writing for this blog and my books. Now I am taking a leap in querying agents. Every day I check my email for responses. The rejections aren’t as painful as smashing through the plate glass window of a building, but they can be gut-punching setbacks.

Use failure as a way to improve.

I’ve received feedback in several rejections and my manuscript has been out on submission. Instead of giving up to self-publish, I’ve taken the constructive criticism, worked on my technique, and repacked my parachute. If I end up self-publishing anyway, I won’t look back and regret the querying process. The professional critique has hugely impacted my manuscript and it’s been free advice by top professionals.

You’ll never please everyone.

I want my book to be the best it can be. I’m not in a big hurry to publish. It’s worth the extra time.

Regardless of how it is published, someday I’ll face public reviews of my work. Talk about nerve-wracking while looking down at tiny traffic lights as turbulent wind pummels my face. I expect that no matter how much I revise and improve it, my book will be panned by someone.

Cliffhangers are a way of life.

Will I score an agent? Be traditionally published? Will my words find ten readers or ten thousand? Who knows?

The only way to find out is to climb out on that ledge and jump.

By the way, ElSalvador.com posted a video of Hank and two friends skydiving from a hot air balloon a few day ago. Go Hank!

Do you take the safe route in attaining goals or do you jump off the ledge?