How to Find a Literary Agent

This is a topic that is widely discussed amongst writers and novelists-in-the-making.  It’s a topic that very relevant now because of the precarious relationship between traditional publishing and e-publishing.  Many still feel that traditional publishing is still the way to go because you still will have the veneer of success stamped on you because a traditional publisher accepted and published your work.  This is the epitome of the author having arrived.
However, with so many success stories of independent writers who are making a name for themselves and selling their books through their own marketing efforts (John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Richard Phillips to name a few…), you wonder if it is possible for the average writer.
John Locke has a book that describes how he sold one million books in 5 months.  It gives step-by-step details – but do you have the time, patience and tech/software savvy to handle all of the simple steps and the ongoing promotions and marketing required?
Well, that’s something only you can answer.  However, even if you don’t self-publish, creating a brand and a platform in social media is becoming increasingly more important even when in contract with a traditional publisher.  Publishers want to know that you can engage a decent amount of readers and are not clueless in today’s new publishing arena.
So, if you think your manuscript is polished with tight grammar, spelling and punctuation let’s move on with acquiring a literary agent!
Step #1: Make sure the literary agent you are submitting to is not the first person to read your completed novel.  Have a dry run editor and/or beta readers who provide feedback on your work.  And then, make sure you listen to this feedback and get some other opinions to ensure that you know from a few readers what are the high points and low points of your story.
Step #2: Once your manuscript has gone through the beta readers and/or editor and gets a green light go ahead and begin making the edits/changes suggested from the feedback.  Re-read, or have others re-read again to ensure that you’ve fixed the items that needed clarifying, expansion, contracting – or whatever was needed.
Step #3: Begin creating your query letter which will be your book’s introduction to the literary agent(s) of your choice.  The query begins with an introduction detailing why you chose the agent to pitch your book to and to show that you know something of that agent.  Research and read as much as you can about the agent and incorporate what you’ve learned in that first paragraph.
The second paragraph is your book’s synopsis.  Tell what your novel’s about in 250 – 400 words – less if possible!  Give them sizzle and pizzazz.  Make the agent want to read what you’ve written.  You can compare your book with a similar set of books so they get the idea quickly.  Give them a titillating blurb that will make them want to ask for more pages of your book.  You must also tell them where your book will go on the shelf of a brick-and-mortar store, or where it will be cataloged in an online bookstore.  Is it a psychological thriller?  Is it a historical romance?  Is it a Christian Western romance?  Let them know!  How many readers are in this market?  If you know, you can share that!
The third paragraph is your bio – why are you the right person to write this particular book?  Who the heck are you???  Let them know of your quirky personality through eclectic language that is uniquely you.  This is the time to showcase your ability as a writer!  If you’re having trouble writing about you, pretend you’re writing about someone else!  Be as objective as possible but funny as all get out if that’s who you are!
Step #4: Get another pair of eyes on your query to ensure you didn’t omit something important!  When trying to condense we sometimes overlook extremely important pieces.  While you’re at it, have them check for typos and any other glaring mistakes.
Step #5: SPELL THE AGENT’S NAME RIGHT!  Yeah, I know this is silly but it is extremely important.  If you read the blogs and follow agents’ social media accounts, you will see that simple things like not spelling their name right labels that author as ‘sloppy’ or worse – lazy.
Step #6: Send out that query according to the specifications of the agent’s blog or post.  If they ask for a query with 5 pages of your book – give them what they ask for!  Do not give them more or less.  If they ask that you paste it in the body of the email – DO THAT!  If you send an attachment, in most cases, they will not open it and your query will be discarded without being read.  Following instructions at the outset (and throughout the process) is important.
Step #7: Repeat steps 3-7 until you acquire an agent!
There’s no magic bullet or pill that will find you an agent in 10 days.  The average amount of queries one needs to send out before beginning to even expect to get an agent’s interest is 100 queries.  I recently corresponded with one writer who sent out over 200 queries and had 3 agents request to see the full manuscript.  As you can see, the percentages are not in the writer’s favor but if this is the road you want to pursue be persistent.
To help your chances, you should attend literary events in your area to get up close and personal to a living breathing literary agent.  Know that the agents will be inundated with hopeful authors such as yourself throughout the literary event.  However, having met an agent face-to-face, you can make an impression that can make the request of seeing your manuscript come much more quickly than if you had simply sent your query via snail mail or email.
To help you find agents, please check out these links:
About this Guest Poster:
Rochelle Campbell is a Brooklyn-based writer who has written two full-length novels and over 25 short stories.  Chambray Curtains Blowing inthe Wind was published in 2009 by Bartleby-Snopes Literary Magazine.  You can buy her short story collection, Leaping Out on Faith, on Amazon for 99-cents (  She is also on a quest to acquire a literary agent.

The Transitioning to Gluten-Free Blues

This is going to be a simple post.  This is all about my struggle with going gluten-free.  Due to health/breathing issues I pulled gluten out of my diet in mid-March of this year.  I’ve slowly tried to re-introduce small things and was NOT successful at all.  I’m almost as bad as I was in March.

After reading this LiveStrong article about testing oneself for gluten sensitivity/allergy, I realized that I was ingesting copious amounts of gluten without realizing it.  French fries are coated with a gluten solution!  Who knew??  Pam baking spray has gluten in it!  Twizzlers = gluten.  Cold cuts, processed meats and frozen meats all have gluten (in one form or another) in them!  This is not fun.

I feel like all I can eat is gluten-free crackers and cheese from Murray’s!  Or, I have to make everything from scratch for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I was a vegan for 12 1/2 years and this gluten-free diet feels just as restrictive.

Tracy Joy’s LiveStrong article makes it very clear:

You can consume nothing made with wheat, rye, barley, bulgur, couscous, dinkle or spelt, durham, semolina, einkorn, emmer, farina, kamut, gluten, malt, matzo, mir, oats (may be added back in later), seitan and triticale. Anything made with these products must be avoided, which means you must get in the habit of reading labels if you eat processed foods. You will need to eliminate most pastas unless they’re made with corn or rice four, breads, cereals, gravies, soups, processed sandwich meats and baked goods. Most processed or frozen meats also have been injected with a solution that contains wheat. While potatoes are gluten free, french fries are often coated with a wheat solution. The point is you must read labels. To be safe, stick with fresh produce and meat while you are testing for a gluten allergy, and avoid all processed foods.

Disgusted with my lot in food, for dinner today, I made myself some sauteed salt fish with boiled sweet plantains and boiled green bananas.  I tried my hand at gluten-free dumplings with some cornmeal in them.  The dumplings didn’t turn out too badly!  I cannot tell you the recipe as I was just upset and threw various flours in: cornmeal, white rice flour, chickpea flour, xantham gum and I think some potato flour along with salt, garlic and onion powder.  I kneaded as usual and plopped some spindles in with the boiling ground food.

However, this type of cooking takes time!  I want quick, tasty and fast.  Okay, okay.  I’m whining and complaining.

Any healthy, good tasting, relatively quick gluten-free recipes, tips and tricks would be most helpful!  Please leave your comments, tips and workarounds below!! PLEAAASSSEE!!!  I’m in my 3rd trimester now and am generally too tired to make 3 meals (plus snacks!) each day.  So, any help would be greatly appreciated!

P.S. – Found this great video by The Celia Diva and it made me feel so much better.  Thanks Lauren!

Ta-ta for now,

Nothing Written is Ever Wasted

My childhood home was crushed last year.

Smashed into a disc of debris by one little windstorm and an old cottonwood. If you were to stand in the wreckage, you’d never have known that it was once a humble house from a humble neighborhood. With windows and worth and walls covered in pictures of smiling faces. It’s a strange thing to see a symbol of permanence reduced to violent rubble – one that the dear people of Oklahoma understand all too well right now. (Our thoughts are still with you!) After discovering that no one had been hurt, those of us who’d long since flown the coop were surprised to realize that the destruction of the house wasn’t as upsetting as it might have been. All symbols aside, it was only a bit of wood and paint. It could be rebuilt. The cottonwood was another matter.
Losing that blasted tree brought us to tears.
To be fair, this was no ordinary cottonwood. It was ooold, having stood benevolently at the home’s side for more than a hundred years. It had provided shade and shelter not only for us, but for countless birds, squirrels, and beneficial insects that were now left with nowhere to sleep. It had been a permanent hiding place for raccoons and a temporary roost for eagles. My baby sister and I had wasted entire summers in its branches, playing at spies and soldiers and daring one another to climb higher, ever higher. Courtesy of an odd clustering of what looked to be four trees melded into one, its trunk measured over thirty feet in circumference and its canopy was a sky unto itself. The dear woman from the local Arbor Society who came to record its passing said it was the most astonishing of its kind, the most remarkable cottonwood she’d ever documented. It had been the reason my father, now gone, had purchased the property thirty years before. In the end, it was the reason the house fell. I suppose there is something sadly poetic about that.
By now, you’re probably wondering at the title of this post.  It’s a long way to go for a writing metaphor, but I’m ambling my way into a point, I promise.
Though we didn’t know it at the time, cottonwoods are notorious for this very type of thing – falling on houses, cars, even people – and as such, aren’t recommended for residential properties. With that in mind, it would be fair to accuse that big, beautiful thing in all its glory of being a mistake. You could say it wasn’t right for the house and the house paid for it. You could say we should have removed the thing the moment we arrived. Maybe you’d be right. But there was a reason that tree had grown to a mounting spectacle, as it did; a goliath that stood apart from its species and endeared itself to everyone who was lucky enough to sit beneath it. Due to a unique growth pattern, the tree’s root system was exceptionally deep and strong. Many cottonwoods tumble after being uprooted by their own girth, but not this one. Had it not fallen victim to disease, those roots might have sustained it for a hundred years more. Even now that it has been shorn to a stump, that system remains, stretching beneath the soil, a living network that none can see, providing a foundation for the new trees that have now been planted atop it. They will tap into that system. They will be nourished by it. They will grow to be more hardy, more successful, and likely more beautiful than they could ever have been on their own. 
And they will have that beautiful mistake to thank for their success.
My point, dear reader, fellow writer, is this:
We sometimes find ourselves in the aftermath of a writing mistake. Maybe you’re struggling to find acceptance for your work. Maybe something isn’t selling the way you thought it would. Maybe you’re looking at the devastation of a grand failure and wondering whether it’s at all worth it to rebuild, to start over – or whether you’d be better off to move away from this entire writing endeavor and find yourself a quiet corner office where nothing goes wrong, where work is always rewarded with pay, and where nothing beyond your control is ever going to fall on your dreams and crush them into filthy shards. 
You could do that.
But you bloody well know that you’d regret it.
Not everything you write will be publishable, no matter how much you love it. Not everything you publish will be marketable, no matter how much you try. Novels will be shelved, ideas will be abandoned, entire works will come crashing down on a massive scale and you will stare confounded at the debris, but that doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time. Everything you will ever write has something to teach you. Cut the book to nothing, you will still have the memories of hours wherein you dared yourself to go higher, ever higher. You will learn in hindsight that there was a reason why it failed. And you will have a foundation upon which to build something new.
Writing isn’t something you do, it’s who you are. So write. If you fail, start over. And if you fail again, start over again. You will get stronger with every step, every word, every book. Every part of this loony ride of ups and downs is worth it, in the end – even the mistakes.
Scratch that.
Especially the mistakes.
My childhood home has been rebuilt and it is a remarkable sight. Starting over has injected that humble plot of land with enough sweat equity that the once-dilapidated property could now be a contender on any market. But my favorite part? The sea of trees sprouting strong and beautiful from the place where one gorgeous calamity of a cottonwood lived not so long ago. 
I can’t wait to watch them grow.

About this Guest Poster:

Vivienne Mathews is a nerdy ice queen who talks with her hands and owns far too many hats. A beekeeper with a bee allergy, no one would ever accuse her of being sensible. She spends most of her days in Hermitville, just past Nowhere, with her loving husband, two dogs, and a child who won’t stop growing, no matter how desperately she tries to keep him young. More than anything, she hopes you enjoy these books as much as she enjoys writing them.

Food-Inspired Art by Raynetta Stocks

Hi Folks!  Happy Monday!!  I hope you all have a fabo Father’s Day weekend here in the States and enjoyed the balmy weather we experienced here on the East Coast.  We have a bonus inspiration week post from a wonderful authoress – Raynetta Stocks.

Some of you may recall almost exactly one year ago, this blog reviewed Raynetta’s book The Grim and gave it 4 1/2 Blogairy Notebooks.  Raynetta is now gracing our blog again with this colorfully beautiful post on how food and writing go hand-in-hand.

Sit back and enjoy the last post of NoteBook Blogairy’s first ever Writerly Inspiraton Week posts!

~ NoteBook Blogairy

I’m on a mission.  For the last two years, I’ve been drilled on the importance of food as it pertains to good, healthy habits (due primarily to my congestive heart falure and having to lose weight).  The only pastime I love more than reading and writing is eating.  A beautiful plate sitting in front of me brings forth the most magnificent prose I’ve ever heard in my life, especially if the food tastes amazing!  I have what I call my happy food dance, and only flavorful, yummy goodness gets that honor.

My love affair with food has had to be altered dramatically since my diagnosis (no red meat and pork, low sodium, low fat, high fiber, whole grains, etc.).  And, while those stipulations sound limiting and relatively daunting, I have to admit, the challenge has done nothing but make me love food more.  Cooking, particularly cooking healthy, has forced me to be more creative.  I have to be inventive and spontaneous.  If a recipe calls for sour cream or butter, I have to find tasty alternatives.  I don’t believe food — healthy food especially — should be lacking in flavor.  And neither, by any means, should one’s writing.

By learning to cook to suit my dietary needs, I’ve been inspired to better my craft as a writer because everything I love about food, I love in good storytelling as well.  I like flavor changes and variety (I mean really, who wants the same old chicken??); bright colors make a plate more enticing, and a little spice never hurt nobody!  The same is true for a well-written story.  I don’t limit myself to one genre because I like many different genres and want the opportunity to tell the story that moves me.  Adding bright color to my storytelling can be as simple as inserting an intriguing back story of the character the reader hates most, fanciful plot twists, or anything else that is surprising and completely unexpected.  And spice, well…a saucy romance, or fiendish villain can add heat in any story.  I want my readers to feed on my words the way a starving vagrant feeds on kitchen leftovers, and if what I have to say isn’t well-presented, or well-written, then my work will fall flat.  A flat story is as limp and unappealing as rotten veggies.

Just as cooking takes practice for perfection, so too does the art of writing.  I am so proud when I place my son’s plate in front of him, and on the first bite, I get the happy food dance.  It means I’ve done my job!  I’ve served him something appealing and nourishing.  I have the same job as a writer — I want the happy food dance from my readers on everything I write.  The spontaneity I’ve learned at my stove has carried over to my creativity in front of a keyboard, and both are more appetizing than ever!

About this guest poster:

Raynetta Stocks is the author of “The Grim”, a spychological suspense thriller released in May 2012.  Writing since early childhood, Raynetta has composed a countless number of prose and short stories which she plans to make available on her new subscription page.  Raynetta’s early love of books inspired her latest series “The Lava Chronicles”, the first installment which is due in the Fall of 2013.  She resides in northern Maryland with her son. 

The Write Life: Telling the Truth by Jaclyn Lyons

I am a firm believer that as writers, we tell ourselves things we didn’t know we already knew. It’s an amazing gift we give ourselves and each other–to discover or remind ourselves of truths our subconscious minds had temporarily locked away.
Great pieces of literature are easy to distinguish in this way. We may find as readers that stories resonate with us in that non-verbal part of the brain, causing powerful emotions to stir when suddenly these truths are given words. Articulation. I first felt this when I read the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Every time I go back and read her work again, I’m reminded of the power words have not just over our conceptions of reality, but on a deeper, spiritual level that speaks to the essence of our humanity. I would go as far as to say that literature has the power to tap into a collective subconscious where all our knowledge of the world that has never been given light becomes illuminated.
Perhaps that seems like a bold thing to say. Not everyone speaks the same language and not everyone is literate. But everyone is human and capable at some point in his or her life to have these moments of reflection or introspection that are often inspired by art.
I don’t think that most people outside the literary world would automatically think of writing as an art. But of course it is. Paper is our canvas; words are our paint. Creative impulses manifest in different forms among artists, but carry this same truth-saying power. For some it may come in the form of a narrative, for others a drawing or a sculpture, for others, still, a symphony.
But what exactly do I mean by truth? It is this five-letter word that carries so much meaning, but evades precise verbalization. Quite a conundrum. To add to the paradoxical nature of truth is the notion that it can be found in fiction. Truth is not the same as fact. Truth, to me, is as Dickinson writes, that “certain Slant of light,/ Winter Afternoons –/  That oppresses, like the Heft/ Of Cathedral Tunes–“ And perhaps to me and Dickinson and her other fans, this has sort of become a fact in that we regard it to be as true as any arbitrary date in a history textbook. Where truth differs from fact, though, is its ability to transcend language, culture, and time. Facts, although in ways more tangible, are in many other ways even more elusive than truth when we consider Einstein’s theory of relativity. If we strip away time and space, many facts become irrelevant, while many truths remain the same.
Part of being a writer, or any artist, is being able to recognize the power of the form to convey truth. Just as people have different tastes in visual art, the same is true of literature. Fiction or non, poem or novel, classical or contemporary bears no limits to truth-telling potential. When I think of how different aesthetic value may be from person to person, writer to writer, I am reminded that the truths we tell are best picked up by those that share our same tastes. To be a writer, then, is less about being some type of oracle or soothsayer, but rather a fellow human being. Writing is not the solitary act it is made out to be. In fact, or better yet, in truth, writing has been the most rewarding communal activity of my life.
It can be argued relentlessly whether beauty is truly subjective or not. To bring science into the mix seems to only muddy the waters for me. I prefer to think of it in this way, as John Keats told us years ago:
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.      
About this Guest Poster:
Jaclyn Lyons is a writer, blogger, editor, perpetual and professional student. She has an BA and an MA in English Literature and another MA in Literature and Environmental Philosophy. She’s currently enrolled in a Library Science (MS LIS) program, but she will still always identify herself first and foremost as a writer before any of the ways she earns a living because she believes writing is more about who you are as opposed to what you do.  She hopes to get a short story published this year and has a novel running wild in her brain that is begging to find its way to paper. 
You can reach Jaclyn in the following ways:

Twitter: @jaclynwrites 


You Can Judge A Book By Its Cover by Taylor Fulks

Hello everyone! My name is Taylor Fulks.  I am the author of My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal. I’m so happy to be a part of the NoteBook Blogairy’s Week of Inspirational Writing. I want to thank you from my heart for inviting me to be a part of this lovely blog. With the “taboo” nature of my novel, I must say I’m both shocked and thrilled to have been invited. I only hope that I can accomplish being inspirational on some level.
It’s been said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well…I beg to differ. I purposely designed my cover to show/warn the reader about the contents of my novel. It is a very dark and very graphic novel based on a true story…my story. A story of child sexual abuse and the fall out that occurred in my life from the permanent damage that was inflicted.
I didn’t intend to write my book this way when I sat down to put pen to paper (yes, I write on paper and then type. I’m “old school”). I was going to write mystery/romance. I had read and listened to hundreds of books in this genre and thought, “How hard can it be?
Instead of seeing gorgeous, ultra-successful, ultra-rich, ultra-everything characters entwining themselves in mystery, drama, and ultimately romance on the pages before me, I found I couldn’t write. Instead, I heard the voice of a dirty-faced,  green-eyed, auburn-haired little girl crying out. That voice was the little girl inside of me, begging to be heard.
After forty years of shame and silence, I finally listened.
Now before you ask yourself, “Where is this going and how is this author part of a blog on Inspirational Writing…” let me assure you I’m going nowhere near the graphic
subjects in my book. My book isn’t for everyone. It’s a very difficult read, even for the stoutest reader.To be honest, I don’t really feel all that ‘inspirational’ as an author.
But for some reason, NoteBook Blogairy does…God love her heart…and graciously offered me a slot on this ‘week of inspiration’ to impart my thoughts. So please hang in here with me.
I want to focus on a Mother’s Love for her children. To me, that is the greatest gift that God has bestowed on any of us, aside from the gift of His Son. A Mother’s Love encompasses many things…patience, discipline, kindness, listening, affection, allowing them to fall and get upon their own, holding your tongue as you see their friends mistreat them…knowing you must let them find their own way. But most of all, a Mother’s Love encompasses protection. I came to these conclusions after the births of my daughters. Looking into the eyes of innocence, I also lost a part of my soul that day. Because you see, my mother ‘knew’ what was happening to me…did nothing to stop it…nothing to protect me. So, as I held my first born child in my arms, I made a solemn vow to her and the daughter that would follow three years later. I would like to share that passage and one other from my book. I hope you will enjoy…

In this passage, I have just endured a hideous and dangerous delivery for both me and my baby. She was born at 9:24 am and I didn’t see her again until almost 7:00 pm that same day.

Excerpt from Chapter 33…Fruit of the Womb

Nine long, tormenting and tearful hours later, I was introduced to the love of my life.  It was the single most reverent and holy experience of my existence.  The endless hours of pain and suffering seemed to melt away.  I couldn’t keep from touching her – everywhere.  I counted fingers and toes, traced her eyebrows and ears, marveled at her perfect heart-shaped lips, melted when her tiny hands grasped my fingers, connecting me to her as she held on for dear life; this totally helpless, vulnerable gift from God, was mine to cherish.

As my eyes skated over this beautiful helpless creation, I realized I was looking at God.  Not that my child was God, but that she was a small piece of him that he had given to me to love, raise, and protect.  It was truly an overwhelming and daunting responsibility.  An array of emotions as well as hormones, flooded through me like a tsunami.  This was my baby, my flesh and blood, my number one priority in life.  Nothing short of death would prevent me from protecting this precious little miracle.

As tears welled in my eyes, I bowed my head over my daughter’s body and made a silent, solemn vow before God.  To the best of my ability during her life with me, she would come first.  She would never know loneliness and solitude. She would never fear physical violence or mental and emotional abuse.  She would never doubt my love or question my devotion to her.  She would never question or value or her worth.  She would never know guilt or shame, or be made to feel like a burden to me.  She would be allowed to thrive and grow to be her own person and not be made to feel guilty for doing so.  She would be allowed to flourish, to think for herself, and be praised for her efforts.

Most of all, I vowed she would never have to fear her father, or any other man – ever.  If he or any man ever touched her inappropriately or abusively, I swore before God, I would cut his testicles off with a dull knife and force feed them to him while watching him bleed out.  I promised her then and there as my tears fell lightly on her forehead and cheeks, as she blinked at me, “There will never be a monster in your closet, or under your bed, my love.  I swear it, on my life.”

 Here, I have had three days of breast engorgement, unable to breastfeed my child. Suddenly, my milk let’s down and we are finally joined for life…

Excerpt from Chapter 34…I Knew
My mother placed her in my arms then stepped away, tentatively.  I had donned a nursing bra so I could pad and staunch my actively flowing breasts.  I nestled her in the crook of my arm, exposed my left breast and nuzzled her cheek with my nipple.  Instinct and biology took over.  With minimal help, her little mouth latched on to my breast and she began to suckle as I cried.

If you have never had a child at your breast, it is hard to describe the phenomenon.  Words are grossly inadequate and fail to describe the miracle of God, nature, and survival.  It is a holiness that is visceral.  It is a melding of flesh and bone, blood and Manna; a heart and soul converging during such a small, yet immensely intimate act.  I was bound by the ferocious need to protect– like a lioness protecting her cubs. At the same time I was awash in a fusion of innate softness and a boundless, tender love so intense that I was sure my body was aglow. I was so full of love for this tiny creature, my body couldn’t help but leak with it…mother’s milk and tears.

To feel the pull and tug of your breast as your helpless, vulnerable, and utterly dependent child suckles the life-giving, life-sustaining, substance unique to your body alone, is an overwhelming and heady thing to wrap your mind around.  It not only validated, but strengthened my belief and faith in God; my belief and faith in our future as a family; my belief and faith in myself as a mother. It also awakened disturbing questions in my mind about my own mother.

Even though my novel is a tragic story all too familiar to many, and similar experiences (sometimes worse than mine, and sometimes not as bad) are shared by a growing group I affectionately call “The sister/brotherhood of my soul,” I also share the light and hope I so desperately clawed my way out of hell to find. If there is one bit of inspiration I can impart, it would be this…I’m no longer a victim. I’m no longer a survivor. I’M A WARRIOR! For good or ill, I bared by soul to the world on behalf of all the children who have no voice, no one to listen, and no one to protect them. I bared myself naked to the world on behalf of the little girl inside my book…inside of me. The “Telling” of my story has set me free. I no longer live in shame and darkness, afraid someone will find out about my dark and dirty secret, then tell. I’ve already done that. The little girl inside my book…inside of me is fine. I protect her now.

Children are the living footprints in a world we leave behind. So bask in the beauty and joy of Motherhood. Hug yourself and say “Job well done.” There truly is no greater love, than the love from a mother… 

My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal 

TWITTER: FOLLOW @TaylorTfulks20 

About this Guest Poster:
      Taylor Evan Fulks is a practicing Registered Nurse First Assistant, specializing in open heart surgery to pay the bills. She’s also a wife, a mother of two very challenging (in a good way) teenage daughters, and an ardent “nocturnal gardener” due to her fight with skin cancer. She resides in a quaint and picturesque town in Southern Ohio along the banks of the Ohio River.

     Since the age of thirteen, she has been a prolific storyteller, never dreaming of one day becoming a writer and sharing her stories with the world. Now, with her children almost grown, her career mastered and steady, she feels compelled to tell her own story…My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal, before she can write what she truly loves…Mystery/Romance.

This is her debut novel. My Prison Without Bars is Taylor’s own story written as a fictional novel, but her story nonetheless…her heart.

     “This journey has been the beginning of a new life for me,” says Fulks. “I wrote this novel with the intention of healing my wounds. That didn’t happen. But I found something I wasn’t expecting to find…Acceptance. I can leave my past behind. I don’t live there anymore. Now the rest of my life will be the best of my life.”

What Inspires a Nonfiction Writer?

For me, inspiration is a spiritual experience that happens unexpectedly. I simply go about my day while thinking about what I’m doing, what I’ve done, what needs to be done, what I would like to do, what I will do, and suddenly an idea comes to me that perks my interest. I feel inspired to learn about it, which is possibly a new slant on a topic I’m already interested in or something completely unique. I’ll look it up, I’ll buy books on it, and I’ll read until I’ve quenched my curiosity.
Then I’ll write about it and share my research, thoughts, and experiences. I also write about my life – what’s going on with me, how things have changed, what’s new, and what I hope and dream for. I write about my progress in life, because I’m always working on improving something about myself or my life.
All of these things inspire me to share my story, hopes, dreams, beliefs, and experiences daily. I have so much to share and I know it can’t hurt to do so; it might even help.
I’ve written many articles about what I’ve learned in life. Experience is the best teacher. It’s even considered nearly equivalent to education in the workforce. I take what I’ve learned and I write about it, in hopes that it will help another.
I’ve written four books that stem from my experiences. The first is a book of poems that I penned when I became a writer. It’s called Poetry for the Heart. My second book, Essays for the Soul, is a collection of creative essays about my thoughts and experiences in regards to writing and life.
My third book, My Not-So-Ordinary Life, is my autobiography. It tells the tale of my life from childhood to my late-twenties, focusing on my adolescent struggles and how I turned my life around.
Freelance Writing Guide – my fourth book – is based on what I experienced in my first year as a freelance writer. It shares all of what I learned as a new freelance writer in order to help other writers gain insight on what they can expect in their first year as a freelance writer.
Quite simply, I love to write. I write mostly nonfiction because I am inspired by my experiences and my thoughts. I just want to share everything of value that I’ve experienced and learned because I believe it will be valuable to someone else. I like to help people by preparing them for, and educating them on, various aspects of life that I’ve already lived through.
Evidently, I like to learn, and I know there are others who like to learn too. These knowledge seekers are my readers and are the kinds of people I love to reach.
In turn, I learn a lot from my readers. They provide me with amazing feedback, support, and encouragement. They are teachers too, and many of them are writers too. There is always something I can learn from them.
If you are interested in any of my books, feel free to visit my website to learn more about them. If you would like to learn more about me as an author, feel free to take a look at my blog.
Thank you for having me as a guest today. I truly enjoyed sharing about what inspires me as a writer and what I like to write about. Feel free to leave a comment or question below and I’ll be happy to respond to them. Have a wonderful day and a beautiful summer.
About this Guest Poster:
Christine Rice is a freelance writer, author, and editor. She’s been involved in the writing and publishing industry since 2007. She has published four books and loves helping other authors edit and format their books. Her freelance services and her writing keeps her very busy. She happily resides in Massachusetts with her wonderful husband and their beloved cat.

The Fight for Life: An Inspiring Lively Story

Today’s post needs a bit of an introduction.  This guest poster is a virgin blog writer and is popping her proverbial cherry here on The NoteBook Blogairy!  For this, we applaud her!  This is a piece written from the heart and very well may be the beginning for a much longer piece along the memoir lines.  
Today also happens to be Wednesday.  Why is this significant?  Because this guest poster is at a pivotal point in her life.  One could almost say she’s at a hump in the road.  (Okay, really bad pun but you get the idea!)  This post contains some deep heartfelt emotions that may be difficult for some to read and is spiritual in nature but not overly or dogmatically so.  However, her story is powerfulIt’s a story you’ll not soon forget.  Without further ado…
        Well, I have to confess. When I was asked to write about what inspires me, I was stumped.  I had been going through a depression of sorts.  At time I  spoke to the blog lady, I had recently had a conversation with a co-worker in which the highlight was smoking legal weed.  I was telling him how I wished that I had some form of terminal cancer so that I could get the prescription.  I explained how I would carry a “QP” in my backpack, the paperwork and tell the cops where they could stick it.  Yesss indeedy, this was one of thoseconversations.  
There was another fellow co-worker present who suggested that I should wish for high-blood pressure instead of the cancer.  But when he looked me in my eyes, he saw something that made him squint. He backtracked and said, “Naahhhh, don’t wish for that,” and he promptly averted his gaze…
I thought nothing of it; it was just a conversation, right?  However, shortly after these conversations, I did begin noticing that I had started drinking and smoking cigars more frequently.  The weight I lost began creeping back onto my hips and thighs. Feeling heavy, ugly and alone, a conversation started in my head that I couldn’t stop.  It went like this:
Why should I do all of this work to keep the weight off?  For what? I have been single for over a decade and a half; almost as long as I have had my job (which I hate). Sure I was in school, doing great, too, then that dream got deferred.  I’ve run out of money and opportunity. What am I living for? Haven’t I tried to do right?  Tried to be right? Haven’t I tried enough prayers, meditations and yoga asanas? Didn’t I bathe in the right rivers and oceans?   I’ve already read the Bible, Koran, the Torah, and have been well-versed in the I Ching yet and still – here I am.  At square one.  Is it worth it? What has my entire lifetime been worth?
After this browbeating from self, I would just sit on my couch and think, drink, smoke and eat. The next round of browbeating went like this:
I know I can’t take my own life because that has consequences…but what if I got cancer?
The browbeating paused because suddenly I would feel better; just the thought of me being terminally ill made me feel so happy!  I felt lighter. Liberated.  Free – almost as if death would be the best thing that could happen in my life.  It would end all of the problems and all of the pain. I have nothing to live for: no children and no family of my own. I am nearing my 40th decade on this earth and have been on my own all my life. Alone.  In my mind, with the options and opportunities I don’t see in my future, I feel I am well beyond childbearing age. 
This is not at all how I thought my life would be or wanted it to be.  Living to pay bills and to consume is not a full life but with all that I have done and with all that I have studied I would consider myself to be…spiritual.
Surprised?  Me, too! 
Years ago, I thought that at this stage of my life that I would be floating on a mountain by now because of all the Ohms I have chanted.  (smdh)
 But nope, I am just here on my couch like so many other people wondering if my life is even worth the effort. I have done all the spiritual things that is supposed to save my life – I know dammed well what I need to do!
·         How to meditate to lift my energy levels
·         How to plant seed-thoughts to counter negative feelings
I know how to do these things and more.  Why do I know?  Because I have consulted so many gurus in my lifetime.  They have shared with me 30 different ways to move up and down a street without using my feet! So, why am I still in this funk?? !??!

            Well, what I can say is that over the years all the opening of chakras has enabled me to have a very keen sense of hearing and a deeper and more elaborate sense of what is going on around me. I have been able to experience many things that I don’t believe the average person experiences
But, one of the most important things that I have learned is that I am my own savior. I know that I have the power inherent in me of the eternal pool spring of energy for which I owe my existence.  Because of this knowledge, I know I was born with everything I need to succeed. 
So why am I sitting on my couch rotting, you say?  Well, I learned all of these things, but when the “schlep” hits the fan, I want them to exist in a neutral space where everything is Zen. However, that’s not how it works.  The Powers That Be intended for these spiritual tools to be used. It is precisely when I feel like death is my best option that I should make meditation my sword and shield. It is when I feel like my life is not worth fighting for that the asanas of yoga become the grace by which I save myself. But it is I who must become the plow in order for the good to happen in my life. 
The Psalms do work to uplift the mood if prayed meaningfully and consistently. I am my own failure, or at least I have been. I haven’t given my life a chance. I get so focused on each and every step (the small stuff!!), that I take and take and forsake all that has been given to me.  I instead look at what I don’t have because my life hasn’t followed the Harlequin/Rich Dad/Happy Guru “script” I envisioned. 
Here’s the thing.  It’s okay to be human.  It’s okay to be tired.  Life can be difficult but I can no longer act like I don’t have what I need. There are so many things that I have learned.  I know better.  At the end of the day, I only have myself to blame. 
I have begun meditating again and I have resolved to go back on my diet full force. I will buy a new juicer, as my old one died, and start with a juice fast. I have resolved within myself not to give up on my life; to let my future success be my inspiration. And with all of the energy that I have I will fight for my life – to really and truly live and not just survive. 
I would like to thank my ancestors for being with me, and never letting me go. It is because of them that I have been bent but never broken.  
Lastly, I would like to thank you all for reading this post.  Please, for the sake of this world, be your own inspiration. You already have all you need and we need you!!
Peace, love and light be unto all of you from this day forth and forever more. 

About this Guest Poster:

She prefers to not add a byline to this piece. Instead, she wanted a link to her original unedited piece.  Please Note: It is a longer work — over 1600 words and expresses true raw emotions.

Inspirational Digital Paper Writing with K.C. Wise

                Not to be cliché, but inspiration is such a deep and personal thing. It’s a word that we throw around as if it isn’t something powerful –  something that can move mountains and oceans – but when you stop and think about it, inspiration can come as something as tiny as an ant, but can have the power and the fury of a hurricane.

While I have many sources of inspiration, when it comes to writing–how I started and what keeps me going–my inspiration comes from the practical and the whimsical.

My practical reason for writing? I wish, at some point, to purchase time.

My whimsical reason for writing? I wish to build a beacon.

I must give context to these two sentences. My writer’s story starts in a classroom. I was an 8th grade U.S. History teacher in a competitive and successful urban charter school before my eldest son was born. I created a curriculum that was progressive and critical. I was committed to education for liberation, for giving my impressionable young students the “real” history of our country, and making the connections from the Mayflower (which landed not too far south from their Roxbury classroom) to their segregated classroom in the age of Barack Obama. Some fool gave me the opportunity to awaken young minds to history, and I did. I loved every second it, though I knew that I wasn’t going to be promoted farther beyond where I was. The kids were awesome, but the adults were stressing me out. When I became pregnant with my eldest son, I knew that my focus needed to shift. I knew that I couldn’t effectively shepherd both my young, beautiful urban 8th graders to college and beyond while also raising my young son. I might be able to do both in a mediocre sort of way, but I couldn’t do both well. It wasn’t fair to either party. I needed to make a choice.
                I chose to leave my job in order to take on motherhood full time. Having a husband who works in the sciences, we were blessed to have enough income (in the context of our economy) to be able to take on such a thing. It was still a hit to our finances, but it was worth it to us.
                This brings me to the practical inspiration for my writing. A little over a year ago, I was the mother of an 8-month old baby as well as newly pregnant with baby number two. My eldest son and I were at the grocery store, picking up the things that mothers need to take care of sons, and my card was declined. I was, naturally, embarrassed. We pay our bills. We’re middle class, so we have our debts, but we’re people who pay our bills. I switched to a new card, paid for my groceries, and slinked out of the Stop & Shop, embarrassed to be yet another Black woman with money problems in the eye of the New England onlookers. I went home and looked at our accounts, then emailed my husband, who was the manager of such things. We had a problem, and we needed to seriously rethink the way that we were handling our money.
                I worried. We were lucky in that we could drastically cut back our budget and still keep me at home, but I knew that my being home was a burden. I started seeking opportunities for full time and part time work, looking for ways to supplement our income, and when a full time job at a prestigious private school became available, I interviewed. I was nine months pregnant. I got that job, too, but you know what? It would have cost us almost two thousand dollars a month to put our two boys in child care. It was, essentially, the paycheck I would have earned. I was devastated. My husband was, too.
While mothering, I was constantly reading or listening to audiobooks. The two Novembers before my eldest was born, I stopped life to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I enjoyed the abandon, I wrote great ideas that were poorly executed, then I  tucked them away in the bowels of my hard drive, never to be seen again. I knew that I had a bit of talent somewhere, that I was capable of coming up with great ideas, but I didn’t know anything about what to do with it. I began to seek classes, websites, and other opportunities to learn the craft and art of writing, to possibly hone my talent in a way to supplement our income.

                I write to buy time. Time with my two young beautiful sons. My young sons are now one and two, my two year-old starts preschool in the Fall. Every day, my mission is the same: To raise them to be intellectual, reflective, compassionate, independent, curious and happy young gentlemen of color. The only way that I can do these things, I think, is to be home with them for as long as possible. I don’t need a million-dollar writing contract to do that. I just need a little bit, every month, to loosen things up and give us a little break. I need just enough to make me feel like I’m contributing to the family to justify my staying home.
                The more I thought about seeking a place among the many, many people trying to contribute to the world as writers and thinkers, the more I thought about my students at my former school. They were beautiful young people of color, too old for the fairy tales that placate our young, too young for the stories of truth that make adulthood too serious and desperate. We started each school day with forty minutes of silent, independent reading. They read a variety of books, from the simple Diary of a Wimpy Kid to the powerful Their Eyes Were Watching God. Most of them were reading what every other kid in America was reading at the time: Twilight, The Heroes of Olympus series, Harry Potter, or Hunger Games. I have few objections to my students reading these books. They were great, fun little YA series that certainly got kids excited about reading which, as a teacher, was all that I could ask for.
                But as a mother of two boys, I started wondering, what are the books that my sons will be reading? What wisdom will they glean from a story like Twilight? What are the books that I would want them to read? The books that will make them think, the ones that will make the wonder? What will be the books that change their life’s direction or shape the way they dream? When I thought about the books that shaped my life, I realized that very few of them featured characters that looked like me. Characters came from the places where I came from.
                I don’t think that you must connect with every character on a racial or socioeconomic level. I do dream, however, of a world where my sons can pick up books and find characters that they can relate to on a level that has just as much to do with their life experiences as it does on the fantasy that an author has created for them. In other words, when it comes to creating literature for my sons and my former students of color, I’m writing to become the change that I wish to see in the world. I aspire to write in a way that imparts wisdom that makes the reader think, wonder, and maybe even make different choices. I aspire to build a beacon with my writing for those young people of color who I think about every day.
Inspiration comes from so many places, and indeed, my inspiration draws from filling a need. I need to contribute in one sense, and I feel like I can contribute in another sense. Words are so powerful, especially for the young and impressionable. While I don’t know if I would consider what I write to be Young Adult in genre, I do know that literature doesn’t always know age. Anyone of any age can pick up a story and learn something from it. I hope to write stories that will always leave the reader wondering, but also leave the reader just a little bit wiser. These are my hopes and dreams. This is what keeps me getting up and putting words on digital paper.
                For the children who are here, for the children who are coming, for the children who we know, and the children who we should and could know, I hope that you will keep writing. Words give us power, and we need more of it. Happy writing! 
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Please make sure to visit K.C. blog –
About this Guest Poster:
K.C. Wise is a former teacher, current mother of two beautiful boys and aspiring author. Currently writing flash fiction and short stories, she is working on a novel that she hopes to have published in September 2014. K.C. draws inspiration from her current home of Boston and fading memories of her true home, the Washington D.C. metro area.

Always and Eternally Yours…DM Yates

I love to write stories and poetry. When I write, I get taken up into a whole new world, experience new places and new friends. I want the story to take me away with it. If I stop to think about what I’m writing or what I should write, well, it’s just not as interesting as when the story leads me.

I’ve written poetry and books my entire life, but I didn’t take it seriously as a business until after my family had grown and I had more time. I self-published my first novel, ‘Always’, last fall. The first sequel will be out this fall: ‘The Lone Hero.’ Who knew I wrote in fantasy/new-age/spiritual/romance genre? I didn’t. Why not? Because I just never had the time to really get into writing before.

I am so happy when I read positive reviews or someone writes me telling me how much they enjoyed the book. Can you imagine touching people through the medium of writing? Giving them a way to escape into another place for awhile? That’s how I feel when I read a good book, like I’ve journeyed there and I’m part of that life. When I finish the book, I miss the characters and the places, the adventure. I can only hope that’s what my writing does for others.
One of my friends told me once: Don’t worry about the number of books sold. Believe that whoever reads your book was meant to.
Just that thought keeps me going everyday. There are people out there who will enjoy my writing! What a great thought.
My first book of poetry will be out this spring, and I hope to have an anthology of short stories out this summer.
For all of us, may we each see our own potential and go with that, being the best we can be, sharing our talents with the world.
Believe in yourself and dream above the clouds. I do, and I believe in you!
I love to make new writer/poet friends, so here are my contact links.  I’ll like/follow/friend back!
ALWAYS - 2500.jpg 

DM Yates Contact Links:

We have an Author/BookLover group board you can join by following me so I can follow you. You can add your books to our group board!!

As you can see, I live on the Internet, and I so enjoy meeting new friends. Find me at any of these places.
Love, honor, and respect to you,
DM Yates
About this Guest Poster:
DM Yates grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio. She started writing stories and poetry as soon as she learned to read and write. She attended BYU Idaho, BYU Hawaii, and BYU in Provo, Utah.  Although writing and poetry are her passions, she didn’t take it seriously to publish until her later years.  She is the Author of the fantasy/new age/spiritual romance stories, starting with ‘Always.’  DM Yates is an independent self-published author.