Monday, May 7, 2012


As a teenager, I had a bit of a daredevil streak. It’s not that I’m overly brave; I just hate to be afraid. If I was scared of something, I had the overwhelming need to facedown that particular fear. I refused to own it or let it control me.

Plus, I got a kick out of the adrenaline rush. I call it my young and stupid phase. Thankfully, I survived it; although, I had some close calls.

My dad got stationed in California the year I graduated from high school, and I decided I didn’t want to stay by my lonesome in Kansas, so I moved with my folks. I had just finished my first college semester. I still lived at home, and I felt stifled by m parent’s rules. I wanted to live life on my own terms to see if I could. I think a lot of kids on the cusp of adulthood go through growing pains at this age.

I was studying to be a Wildlife Biologist at the time, and I thought it would be a good experience for me to join the California Conservation Corps (CCC). I thought I would be working in one of the State Parks fighting wildfires and communing with nature. Instead, I was sent to San Pedro, CA (basically, Los Angeles), and I worked in the kitchen.

Still, for three months, I was free from my loving, slightly overprotective parents. It was wonderful. And it sucked eggs.

 I learned a few things from this experience:

      1)      I could survive on my own.

  2)      I wasn’t ready to be on my own.

I also learned to never to go dirt surfing off of the edge of a cliff.

There is a brief moment when you’re hanging onto the edge by the tips of your fingers when you think, “Damn, this is stupid.”

The ocean below a 20 feet drop looks kind of welcoming in a terrifying way, especially when the alternative is smashing against the rocks. I was fortunate. I missed both. I fell, hit a rock-free patch of sand, then rolled (a lot) until I fetched up on the beach. I had some bruises and scraps, no broken bones, and a new-found fear of falling/heights, which I combat by forcing myself to climb really high ladders and rappel off of buildings. My kids take after me in this respect. Kiwi almost reached the top of this rock climbing wall
Me, and my son, M- age 4- 2006

Kiwi- age 6- 2006

Which is why I want to acknowledge the importance of CLIFFHANGER.

When a reader gets to the end of a chapter they are faced with a choice: to turn the page or put the book down. You, the writer, want them to keep reading. To keep them engaged, they need to feel like I did while hanging over that stupid cliff and wondering what’s going to happen next. Are the characters going to survive—emotionally, physically or are they doomed to fall onto the jagged rocks below?

 So, how do you deal with those pesky chapter endings? Do you like a good cliffhanger?


  1. I like to create cliffhangers. It's a little more frustrating when you're reading them. :)

  2. Good point. Especially if the cliffhanger ends the book. That drives me crazy, but I've been guilty of doing that myself.

  3. Love the pictures! And cliffhangers are the best. I believe they are part of what makes a novel a page turner.

  4. I agree Michelle, sometimes the cliffhangers last the entire book and then ends Angie it drives me crazy as well. I love creating them, but I have a hard time realizing when to much is to much:0

  5. I love cliff hangers so much, I'm thinking of changing my first name from Don to Fred.

    I bet you thought I was going to say Cliff.

    Well I didn't because I'm changing my last name from McFatridge to Hanger. Fred Hanger or maybe Fred McHanger to stick to my Irish roots.

  6. Kate- I was searching for a pic of me when I climbed a 100 ft ladder, but stumbled on these instead. They were so cute (still are) at this age.

    Paula- there is a fine line between suspense and toying with your audience to the point that they're frustrated and don't care anymore. Michelle almost jumped through cyberspace to choke me out on Hound of Annwyn's cliffhanger ending. I'm working on fixing it now.

    Don- er Fred, some days all I can do is *face palm, shakes head*

    Thanks for stopping by guys.


Now it's your turn. What do you think?

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