Monthly Archives: December 2011

Guest Post by Angela Peart

I can’t tell you how excited I am for Angela Peart to be my guest. Like most of you, I was drawn to her gravatar on Twitter and Facebook. Have you ever seen anyone exude so much happiness within a single shot of their face?

Yet, I have learned there is much more to Angela Peart than simply meets the eye.

She was European born and raised in the country of Poland and now resides near Seattle, Washington while balancing her many responsibilities as a wife, mother and writer of Adult, YA and Children’s literature. She is a hopeless romantic, a self-appointed organic food ambassador and an environmentalist with a passion for watercolor paints.

A romantic organic environmentalist? Love that!

It can be no surprise that Angela prefers sunshine over rain, loves all types of music from Train to Chopin along with one of my personal favs, jazz musician Jesse Cook landing somewhere in-between. She has an exceptional flair for salsa dancing. Arriba! And on any given day she can be seen wearing her designer heels to the least of appropriate places.

Her son’s soccer practice? Okay, we won’t go there.

So with the everyday juggling act that Angela has to face, how is it that she is able to keep her focus and what has helped her to achieve her many goals?

Well with 2012 just around the corner, Angela is here not only to answer that question, but she is going to share with us her highly motivating formula for success!

So without further ado, I am thrilled to introduce to you, Angela Peart!

Thanks Karen and hello everyone!

As was mentioned, our lives can easily get in the way of our main objectives and achievements.
What I’d like to do is share with you what has helped me and many others to change that by
keeping us accountable while successfully achieving our goals.

What’s the best thing about it?

It really works…

ROW80 Straightened My Twisted Perspective on How To Achieve My Goals.

We all have goals. It must be in the human nature to realize what our desires are and to shape them into the quantifiable and time-targeted intentions simply called “a list of goals”. Some of us have a long list, while others might only have a few items on it.

Or maybe there is just this one goal that is strategically placed in front of other goals—we consider it most important for our immediate future. Perhaps we have a list of goals that are connected to one another, like stepping stones: the completion of some of them strictly depends on achieving the preceding ones.


Our goals are usually formed on a realization that our life is currently lacking something—a better job, a slimmer body, healthier eating habits, a fulfilling hobby, etc.

The list might include the goals that have formed simply because we have achieved this one specific goal in the past, but until now we haven’t attached any strings to it.

For example, let’s say Susie bought a gift certificate for Amy at a craft store. Amy, who has never been very crafty, went to that store and examined various items without really knowing what she should be looking for. Finally, some fabric caught Amy’s eye and she spent her gift certificate on the fabric along with some thread and needles (per the store clerk’s suggestion). Amy took all her purchases home, but she had no idea what to do with them. Susie brought Amy some quilting magazines to look through, and Amy decided that she loved the way the quilts look. So what happened next?

Amy had a goal!

Her goal was to sign up for a quilting class, which she did. But she needed a sewing machine. So her next goal was to save enough money for that purchase. This was Amy’s goal number one, and as you can see, it made it to her list because of the completion of her previous goal (taking the quilting class), which was also on that list because of another preceding goal—spending her gift certificate on something crafty.

This example shows us how we end up with some of our goals without even planning them ahead of time. Just like Amy in my example, we might end up with one goal creating the next and then the next and so on. Amazing how these things work.

A list of goals might be quite straightforward but the road to completion is often filled with many obstacles. Every now and then we throw our arms up in frustration and quit. Sometimes a goal slowly slips away from our focus and we conveniently “forget” about it. Other times we seriously try to achieve a goal because we know all too well that without completing it we might lose something we don’t want to give up. This is a “working under pressure” scenario that most of us know from experience.

I have set up all kinds of goals in the past—some of them I have accomplished, but some I have discarded for various reasons. I’m sure everyone has done their own share of both: great achievements and epic failures.

Then last summer I’ve heard for the first time about ROW80.

One of my WANA711 buddies Kerry Meacham was participating and posting updates on his blog. I got very interested in learning more and, after doing a bit of a research, I decided to join several of my other WANA711 friends who were signing up in October.

There is a bunch of us participating in the current ROW80 round, which ends on December 22nd.

I’m already planning to sign up for the next round, and my main reasons are explained below:

1. ROW80 is a simple way of structuring and working toward achieving our goals.

2. There is a certain amount of camaraderie and support among the participants.

3. By participating in ROW80 we naturally become a part of a fabulous, compassionate and inspiring writing group.

4. We put our goals (and a pledge to achieve them) on a display, which makes us accountable in the eyes of the other participants (and anyone who reads our updates). In my opinion, this is one of the greatest kinds of motivation.

Number 4 is my favorite part of ROW80 because if I am not held responsible for meeting some my goals, I might never achieve them!

Everyone who takes part in the ROW80 displays in their blog the official badge that looks like this.

There is also a hashtag of #ROW80 on Twitter where the participants not only post links to their updates, but simply socialize, exchange advices and words of encouragement.

Sometimes we set a goal that we truly believe we are capable of achieving but, in the process, we might learn otherwise. The reasons behind us not meeting that goal might be completely out of our hands.

Carrie Spencer’s post on trying to fulfill her dream to learn how to juggle is a great example of it. Carrie has discovered that she has a problem with depth perception—thus will not be able to ever master the art of juggling.

I also would like to share with you some of my ROW80 friends’ goals and methods of reporting their semi-weekly or weekly achievements or failures.
Check out Natalie Hartford’s list and her swanky calendar-based reporting. Quite impressive, isn’t it?

Gene Lempp is one of the ROW80 Round 4 sponsors. He only has listed three goals, but they are quite substantial. The first one is to participate in the NaNoWriMo by writing fifty thousand words and editing it. By the way, Gene was one of the winners of this year’s NaNo challenge. His other goal was to complete Kristen Lamb’s Blogging for Writers course, which he did. I highly recommend this workshop for every writer who wants to learn how to successfully build his or her online platform.

And last but not the least, the brain behind ROW80: the fabulous Kait Nolan! Make sure you visit her Blog and follow her on Twitter.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes on goals:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint

Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.

Goals are dreams with deadlines.
Diana Scharf Hunt

You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.
Charles C. Noble

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.
Fitzhugh Dodson

In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.
Arnold H. Glasgow

May I encourage you all to keep setting your goals and to consider ROW80 to help you achieve them!

So thank you everyone and to Karen for having me here as her guest.


No, thank you Angela!

After this encouraging post I think we’re all ready to join you over at ROW80!

I know I am!

So what do you think? Do you create lists of goals? And if so, how do you stay focused on achieving them? Do you participate in ROW80? If not, would this be something that could help you stay on task? I would love to hear your ideas and stories of success and/or failure.

If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to follow by email for future posts.

Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!


And a big thanks to all my new WANA friends and all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

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It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s…

…Tom Cruise!

Wait a minute… Wait a minute… Wait just one minute!

Tom Cruise?

Excuse me, but isn’t that Superman?

Superman who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Take a look at the picture below. Does that look like superman to you?

Or maybe I’m getting him confused with somebody else… Oh, never mind…


The name Tom Cruise might invoke thoughts of movies such as Top Gun, Minority Report and Mission Impossible. Or you might just be thinking Hot & Sexy and “You had me at hello!”

To most people he is synonymous with big blockbuster movies, but if you were to ask the actor if this had always been his lifelong dream, he would tell you that as a 14 year old Franciscan seminary student his only ambition was to become a priest. Yet as one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, his career is a far cry from that youthful ambition.

Take for instance his new Mission Impossible movie “Ghost Protocol” coming out Dec. 21st.

Many movies stars like to brag about doing their own stunts, but this is where Tom Cruise takes the cake, or should I say, walks the walk—especially in his new movie when it came to leaping out of the window of the tallest building in the world. This has made all the other stunts he’s done in the past pale in comparison.

The Burj Khalifa is a 181 story, 2723 foot tall mirrored glass skyscraper and is located in the country of Dubai. This 49 year old actor made running up alongside this building look as easy as a cat climbing up a tree. According to producer Brian Burk, Tom may have had a stunt man test out the safety rigging, but every frame you see in the movie is really Tom Cruise. It’s a good thing too because his stunt man as it turns out is afraid of heights, but apparently Mr. Cruise isn’t.

Yet it wouldn’t be Hollywood if there wasn’t any movie magic applied to the screen. So what you won’t see are all the wires and safety harnesses he was hooked up to in order to perform all those virtual Mission Impossible stunts.

Say all you want, but there is one thing that can definitely be said about Tom Cruise.

No Fear!!!

Watch this:


So what do you think? Have you ever seen the 181 story Burj Khalifa building in Dubai? Could you jump out of a skyscraper window and pull a stunt like that? Or are you afraid of heights? And if you’re a Tom Cruise fan, what movie or movies are your favorites?

If you enjoyed this, I encourage you to follow by email for future posts.

Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!

And a big thanks to all my new WANA friends and all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

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Splendour in the Grass

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind… *

Ah, the illustrious Natalie Wood.

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Natalie Wood over the years. Sadly, it’s been in relation to how she died—was it an accidental drowning or was it by murder? It’s been thirty years since that sensational incident, yet for some reason the nature of her story continues to tug at our hearts.

Could it be because of her untimely death? Without a doubt she was one of the most beautiful women of her time. There was something about the sparkle in her eyes when she smiled that would light up the screen while her presence would dominate her contemporaries. She appeared in over 50 films altogether and received 3 Oscar nominations before reaching the age of 25.

Some of Natalie Wood’s blockbuster hits include:

“Rebel Without a Cause” opposite James Dean.

“West Side Story” which was adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“Splendor in the Grass” alongside Warren Beatty.

Many of us were much too young to see these great films when they were first released, let alone know who she was. But if you are looking for something new to discover from the archives, these films definitely stand up to the test of time.

It’s disheartening to think of that evening and the conditions that brought about what may have happened. Natalie, her husband Robert Wagner along with their friend and costar Christopher Walken had dined togther that night on the Island of Catalina.

There was certainly plenty of drinking taking place, both on dry land and on their yacht named the Splendor. Then an argument had ensued between husband and wife. It’s been said that Natalie retired for the night and that was the last time her husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken had reported to’ve seen her. The very next morning, shortly after sunrise, her body was found by search and rescue helicopters floating face down not 200 yards from their boat.

Now this is starting to sound like a Murder Mystery/Suspense/Thriller.

Where is that Barry Crowther? Come back Barry, come back!

And after all this time police have decided to reopen the investigation with new evidence that suggests Natalie’s own husband Robert Wagner might be involved in this case. Nooo, say it isn’t so. He and Natalie were in the tenth year of their second marriage together. Why in the world would he want her to die?

Well that would end this story with a serious twist!

Though circumstances surrounding Natalie Wood’s death have been one of Hollywood’s many enduring mysteries, let us focus on the positive things about Natalie’s life—her timeless beauty and many talents that will forever endure on the silver screen.

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,

Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,

To me the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

*The poem by William Wordsworth that inspired the film for which this post was named.

So what do you think? Have you ever watched a Natalie Wood’s film? If so, which one would you choose as your favorite? Do you enjoy watching some of the classics? And how many of you think that she was murdered or perhaps think that things are better off left unsaid?

If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to follow by email for future posts.

Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!


A big shout out to Kristen Lamb and all my new WANA classmates and friends. And a big thanks to all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

Click to "Follow Me" and receive new posts by email

Guest Post by Barry Crowther

I am pleased to introduce to you a passionate Mystery/Suspense novelist who “…grabs you by the throat and never lets you go”. He is presently carving his way through the Self-Publishing world, has been featured on “Pixel of Ink” and was just announced as Indy Author’s “Rockstar of the Month”.

Although Barry Crowther now resides along the beautiful Southern California coast, he is still a true Mancunian at heart. A Mancunian you say? For those of you who are curious, a Mancunian is a demonym for someone who is from Manchester, a city in the Northwest of England.

Apparently Barry has something in common with our previous guest, Colin Falconer. Both are huge fans of Manchester United, an English professional football club based in, where else? None other than Manchester, England of course. According to Barry, that’s part of the reason why Manchester is so sexy.

And according to Barry’s father, “If you can’t be smart or you can’t be funny, then be brief.”

Well then, I’ll get straight to the point. Take it away Barry!

Thank you Karen.

As you know, when writing a good story, especially one that is filled with mystery and suspense, great care goes into the process to keep the reader on the edge of his seat. But what works for one novelist may not work for another. So I ask, “What is your preference?”

Organic vs Plotting
Do you have a system for writing? Do you Plot or Write Organically?

This is a great question. I was asked this during a recent interrogation interview. It was a cool question and made me realize that I actually do both.

For the Matt Spears Mysteries I tend to plot in great detail. I use a really cool tool named Scrivener and this lets me see things in a global fashion (pretty much the whole story) and then allows me to switch to a more detailed scene outline. A great writer called David Hewson (he’s currently writing the novels based on the TV show The Killing) is a great example of plotting with Scrivener. I am meticulous in this department and it takes me longer piecing the plot together than actually writing the scenes!

Once I move over to the process of writing the scenes, a character sometimes takes a left turn that wasn’t plotted and this might throw a spanner (wrench) in the works. One interesting example of this was from Missing. I knew who the perpetrator of the crime was before I wrote the first scenes, but by the time I got to the last 10% of the writing I woke up one morning and thought that it made more sense for another character to be the actual bad guy. I was already 80,000 words in but was still happier to go back and change the plot than be stuck with a story where I was unhappy with the ending.

Like my other post about Twisting the Plot, sometimes we even surprise ourselves. If that happens, surely you are going to outwit the reader.

Now, for Nothing, I was frazzled after completing a previous writing assignment and I didn’t want to start plotting again. So as a break I took a pad and sat in the sunshine outside Starbucks each afternoon and just doodled a story. The opening line was something I really liked: “Looking at the spot where my sister was murdered I felt nothing.” From this line I wrote 40,000 words long hand. I then typed the whole thing back into Scrivener and edited it there, then put it out as a Kindle Novella—the reviews (so far) have been stellar.

I am working on the prequel to Nothing using the same system and writing technique**. I write longhand and am into it around 10,000 words. It’s still a great feeling, my hand moves so quickly and I don’t seem to be hitting any sticking points right now. I always conclude a writing session with something dangling (no, not what you’re thinking), I use some form of connecter or cliff hanger like a new character showing up or something being discovered which is a shocker at that point in the story when I sit down next time I don’t have trouble lifting off again. Works for me.

Any ideas on how a novel grows – do we plot or do we dust off an artifact as Stephen King writes? Interesting, but I think the bottom line is – whatever works for you, use it.

**: I also changed my style of writing dramatically for Nothing. It’s written first person present tense. This makes the pace a little breathless with a lot happening in each scene. It’s a Novella, so no one’s had a heart attack yet.

I hope this information will help all of you in your writing endeavors.

Thank you very much for inviting me Karen.

Barry Crowther

No, thank you Barry Crowther!
Good to know that no one has had a heart attack yet!

So what do you think? Do you write Organically or are you a Plotter? What kind of books do you enjoy writing? Do you like Mystery and Suspense? Or do you prefer a little Romance? Perhaps you like to write for a younger audience, Children or YA. Or maybe non-fiction is your cup of tea.
If you enjoyed this, I encourage you to follow by email for future posts.

Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!


A big shout out to Kristen Lamb and to all my new WANA classmates and friends. And a big thanks to all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

Click to "Follow Me" and receive new posts by email

Terminal Mines

Just the name of this post might conjure up thoughts of a movie title. A story on the big screen about a bloody murder mystery or an undercover super secret agent that might include an array of blockbuster stars such as Tom Cruise, Matt Damon or Daniel Craig.

Sorry to disappoint, but I would not be talking about Mission Impossible, the Bourne Identity or even the elusive James Bond. Yet, as this story unfolds it does take on its own nature of espionage or it could be thought of as a tale of reconnaissance as you will see.

Let me ask you this:

Have you ever been stuck somewhere?
Detained against your will?
Trapped like a caged animal?
Confined within the four walls of a nightmare?

What if I tell you that it involves an Airport.

Oh I get it, I get it(snap finger and point); it’s that Tom Hanks movie about the guy who arrives at JFK only to find out that he isn’t allowed into the United States. That while en route his country is no longer looked upon as a sovereign nation and he’s denied entrance into the country and forced to live in the airport, schlepping his luggage and a can of Planters peanuts around from gate to gate.

Okay, that’s close—but not quite it.

Give up?

What if I told you that someone was stuck in the San Francisco International Airport for eight days?

That’s right, eight days.

Eight days spent at an airport in limbo, filled with nothing but fear and humiliation.


This is no Spielberg movie folks, this actually happened.

A woman named Terri Weissinger arrived at the ticket counter to check in her baggage with only thirty dollars to her name. She was on her way to start a new life in Idaho, only to find herself stuck in San Francisco with sticker shock instead.

It had been five years since Ms. Weissinger had stepped into an airport. In fact it had been so long since she had flown anywhere that when she checked in with her baggage, there was an assess fee of $60 for her additional piece of luggage. She was thirty dollars short and it was all the money she had in the world. It was as if a minefield had just opened up in front of her.

Now what would she do?

First, she offered to pay the fee when she arrived at her destination in Idaho, but the agent had flatly refused. Then she offered to leave one of her bags there at the San Francisco Airport to be sent to her later but that would’ve been a violation of airport security regulations.

So she got on the phone. She made several attempts to call all her friends but to no avail. By the time she had finished, she had missed her flight. And that’s when this story turns into a movie-like drama. It was the “The Terminal” and she had become the new Viktor Navorski, although she looked nothing like Tom Hanks.

You see, in order for Ms. Weissinger to be put on a new flight, she was required to pay for not only the baggage fee but also the $150 exchange fee. By this time it was late and with no where to stay she spent the night at the airport. When she awoke she learned of more bad news. Since she couldn’t afford the exchange fee, U.S. Airlines told her she would have to book a new flight. She almost croaked when she heard the cost: nearly $1,000.

This is a joke, right?

Over the next week Ms. Weissinger did nothing but meander up and down the San Francisco airport staking out the terminal seeking obscurity, while at night she slept hidden away in a small space she had discovered underneath a nearby stairway. At one point she was treated for anxiety at the airport medical clinic and when she sought out the police for assistance they almost charged her with vagrancy charges.

This ordeal continued for eight straight days until a nearby church gave her the $210 necessary to restore her original flight and only then did U.S. Airlines apologize for this terrible mishap, thus giving this story a happy ending.

So what do you think? Granted, this story does give new meaning to being stuck at the airport. But have you ever felt stuck in your life? Was there ever a time when you thought you couldn’t move ahead, that you were going nowhere, stuck at a dead end? How were you able to move forward with renewed zeal for a positive future?

If you enjoyed this post, you may follow by email for future posts.

Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!

A big shout out to Kristen Lamb and all my new WANA classmates and friends. And a big thanks to all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

Click to "Follow Me" and receive new posts by email