Change, for me, is a daunting thing. And there are some big changes going on in my life right now.

My husband, who is a pastor, has accepted a call at a new church. We are moving to a new town, into a new house.

The people at Zion Lutheran in rural Hudson have been very welcoming and have been enthusiastically preparing the parsonage for our arrival. It’s impressive to me that although they don’t know us very well, they’ve opened their hearts to us, ready to take a chance in making us a part of their church family.

They’ve given the first floor a fresh coat of paint, in colors of our choosing, and they’re putting in a new shower in the first floor bathroom. There will soon be new linoleum in the entryway and main floor bathroom, and possibly, the kitchen.

There are beautiful oak floors in all the bedrooms on the second floor, and we were pretty sure there would be the same kind on the first floor, too. But the carpet was not that old, and in decent shape, and we were a little nervous about asking if we could rip up the carpet and get rid of it. We both love hardwood floors. But what if the floors were very scuffed, or patched, or painted? No one remembered quite what they had looked like before the house was carpeted. We decided not to push the issue, fearing what we would find. It went without saying that if we took the carpet up and found a mess, we couldn’t ask them to put down new carpet, or spend a lot of money refinishing the floors. But we kept thinking about those wood floors – we peeked under the carpet in a few corners. And finally, we got up the courage to ask to have the carpet removed.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” one of the carpenters asked several times. “Once the carpet is up, you can’t put it back down. “  We committed to buying area rugs at our expense, if needed, to cover up any irredeemable flaws. We were willing to take our chances, and so, thankfully, were they.

Life is full of little – and big – decisions, full of turning points, each with its own set of risks.

Unless we’re Nora Roberts and have a few million readers to spare, we ask readers to take a chance on us each time we try to sell them one of our books. In this economy, readers think twice before they spend money on an unknown author. So we come up with dazzling plots and edge-of-your seat suspense and romance that makes the coldest heart sigh with passion. We design enticing covers and write tantalizing back-cover blurbs, all designed to convince new readers to take a chance on us.

Writers go to conferences, finagle editor appointments, write compelling query letters and send stunning synopsis, with the express purpose of convincing the people in power to take a chance on our books — on us! Those looking for employment, like my husband has been for the past couple of months, interview and go to job fairs, network, and redo their resumes in hopes of the same.

In real life and in fiction, when boy meets girl, the first thing that has to happen if the romance is to progress is for one to convince the other to take a chance on them, to open up their heart to the possibility of a relationship.

Sometimes, we’re brave enough to take a chance and then, end up disappointed when our tentative advances are spurned. We rip up perfectly good carpeting in hopes of finding shiny, like-new, narrow board oak flooring, and instead, we find worn, patched-up pine full of gouges and mars. There are no guarantees in this life. Love ends tragically. Hearts are broken. Dreams are dashed. We’ve all been there, done that.

But if we never try – never venture out of the shadows and say, “Please take a chance on me,” we have no hope of a happy ending.

Three years ago, publisher Mike Simpson, of Second Wind Publishing, took a chance on me and published Night and Day. I hope that he is convinced that he made a good decision that day. In some respects, I was taking a chance, too, when I signed on with Second Wind. They were a fledgling company, just getting started.

Just the thought of having my books in print was pretty terrifying in and of itself. An artist takes a huge risk each and every time they reveal their work to an audience of people who may or may not like what they’ve written, painted or performed. Each and every time we open ourselves up to another person, either personally or professionally, we risk rejection, ridicule or criticism.

Thankfully, I can say that my experience with Second Wind has been wonderful. Being published has exceeded my wildest expectations. I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like my books, but I’m here to tell you that hearing wonderful things about and getting complimentary reviews on the books I’ve written is an absolute thrill. I took a chance and have been wonderfully blessed in return.

We got a call today saying the oak floors under the carpeting at the parsonage are in very good condition. There are two slightly worn spots, in areas that can be conveniently covered with a small area rug.

A new year is here. I’m not saying you should gamble away your life savings trying to hit the jackpot, but I would urge you to take a few chances. Don’t be afraid to try. Put yourself out there. Go for the gold and see what happens!

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