The Best of The NoteBook Blogairy for 2015!

Image from Radio Valencia San Francisco

Image from Radio Valencia San Francisco

Everyone’s doing a ‘Best of’ list.  I’ll join the bandwagon!  Here are the top 10 posts that many of you came to my blog to read (and re-read).  I’ve removed the two absolute tops – my Home page and my About page.  Adding them into the mix did not seem appropriate.

Without further ado, here are my top viewed posts in the year 2015.

  1. NYC Gluten-Free Party — Lots of Fun!
  2. The E-Squared Way
  3. The Aftermath of Publishing My Third Book
  4. Jewel Me Crazy: My Love Affair with Alexandrites
  5. #IndieRoar 10-Day Challenge: Are You Ready?! (June 1 – June 10)
  6. The #IndieRoar Challenge Winners
  7. #IndieRoar Challenge Time! Are you Ready for June 1st?!
  8. My Journaling: The Greatest Benefit
  9. Cindy Irish’s: The Song That Seduced Paris Book Giveaway + $100 GC
  10. #WriterWednesday Tip: A Strategic Partner — Your Book Editor

By far, the first five were the far and away most read posts for this blog this year.  The second half did well, but not by the same margins as the first five.  It is interesting that number one has nothing to do with writing at all.  Neither does number 2.  Even though, I mention writing in it.

However, overall my top posts are predominately about the writing life, books, some aspect of reading, or readership!  It is only the top 2 that have nothing to do with writing, or reading.  Even more curious?  Several of these posts were not written this year.  In fact, the top 2 were written in 2014.  And, the Q&A with literary agent Jennifer Chen Tran was written last year, as well.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look back.  I can’t wait to chat it up, read it up and live it up with each and every one of you in the next year.

Happy New Year 2016 Pencils

Fury From Hell: 14 Months Later

Fury From Hell was published the day before Labor Day last year (2014).  I was up ALL night getting the upload just right and ensuring that the cover uploaded correctly.

My editor was on speed-dial and my nerves were blunted stumps by 5:00 am.  However, I was elated!  My first book was going to be born!


As many new self-published authors, I just knew that my book would ‘find its audience’.  That the machine that Amazon is would churn and bring the right readers to Fury From Hell.

That didn’t happen.

I tried building a strong presence on social media (my favorite platform is Twitter – @NoteBkBlogairy).  Over time, I realized that this is important but the focus needed to be not on being a great Twittizen but being a great advocate for my books and writing.  I had to stay true to being a writer and spend quality time developing, refining and acquiring new tools in my writer’s tool kit.

What this all means is I became sidetracked; marketing and building a social media platform was my dedicated focus.  Well, not anymore.  The focus will shift back to my first love — writing.  That thing that I have wanted to do since I was 12 years old.  For goodness sake, I shared the writing and authorship bug with my son and co-authored a book with him (The Magic Seeds)!

Setting a monthly writing goal, a weekly writing goal and a daily writing goal is paramount.  Output is the only measure by which a writer can look to in order to see how dedicated we have been to our craft.  The only other indicator is your research.  In order to be written appropriately, many books need a fairly decent amount of background information to be obtained prior to writing, or to continue writing.  If you have read 15 books in relation to your work-in-progress then you count that towards your ‘writing goal’ for that time period.  Why?  Because without reading those books/periodicals/newspapers/etc. you cannot complete your WIP.  One hand washes the other; one aspect feeds the other.

Writing can consume your every waking hour.  Or, you can obsess over how little writing you have done and let that occupy your mind.  Or, you can say your marketing your work and therefore assisting the overall cause and ease your inner critic!

Fourteen months after publication of my book I can say unequivocally that a writer — self-published, or not — must continue to write and develop new story lines.  The writer must renew their creative faculty through engaging in their favorite hobbies/activities.  A vacation to a new exotic locale, if the budget is there, is also a great generator of new thoughts and ideas.

Once your creative tank is brimming it’s time to pick up your pen, stylus, or grab your keyboard.

As for marketing?  Leave that to the PR professional, or budget your time!  Slate 1 – 2 hours a week ONLY to marketing.  After you reach that limit (or, whatever limit you set), then get back to the matter at hand — writing!

The final word: Don’t get me wrong marketing is very important.  Simply know its place in your writing life.

P.S. – If you want to read some reviews of Fury From Hell here are some links to the reviews.

Ta-ta for now,


Writer Wednesday’s: Q & A with Author Crystal Marcos

I met Crystal on Twitter.  She is a fab Twitterzen and chats with like-minded peeps.  She also happens to be an author…like moi! 🙂

Crystal graciously sat down with me for a bit and told us more about herself and her current work, and her work-in-progress.

Crystal_Marcos_10 04 2015

Author Crystal Marcos!

NB: Tell us about yourself.

Award-winning author Crystal Marcos has been a storyteller her entire life. As the oldest of five children, she had to do a lot of entertaining. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State with her husband and daughter Kaylee, with another child on the way. Crystal is the author of BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE.  Novus, her third book and first Young Adult novel, is Book One of The Cresecren Chronicles.

NB: Where can readers find you?








NB: Where can readers purchase your book?

Kindle edition:

Amazon: Paperback:

Barnes and Noble: Paperback and Nook:



Oyster Books:


Signed Copies:

NB: How, if at all, has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My mom is always encouraging. Growing up, I would tell her I wanted to be a writer and she would tell me that I WAS a writer. She would draw pictures for me and I would make stories about them. I also have four younger brothers and sisters. I was always creating stories for them. One of my favorite activities when telling bedtime stories was to include their ideas in the story. Now, I do this with my daughter. I ask her what she wants to hear a story about. I pause during telling her the story to let her fill in the blanks. For example, a character’s name, what color hat they are wearing, or what a noise sounded like. We create the story together. This makes bedtime special.

NB: How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was very young. My mom saved some of my work from my elementary school years. I wrote my first full-length picture book when I was 12, my first monologue when I was 15, poems and songs in my teenage years, and my first full-length children’s book as an adult. My first book, BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale has won honors and a silver Readers’ Favorite award.

NB: What first attracted you to this genre?

Books I read in my childhood like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Best Worst Christmas Pageant Ever. After reading books like these, I was inspired.

NB: What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I believe my greatest strength as a writer is my ability to transport the reader right into the world I have created.

NB: Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes, during those times, I found making an outline of what I plan on writing next can help. I also found the best thing to do is to skip the area I am having trouble with and just GO ON. You can always go back and fill in the blanks later. If it is a simple name or item and I just can’t think of what I want, I will put XXXXXX in the spot and move on. It will come to me later and I don’t waste my writing time using the XXXXXX as an excuse not to move on.

NB: Tell us about your latest work. Can you share a little of it with us?

Ideal for Hunger Games and Divergent fans, Crystal Marcos delivers Novus, a riveting novel set in a dystopian future of action-adventure, suspense, and romance. Intriguing characters and a gripping storyline keep the reader turning page after page.

Novus Cover Kindle_Crystal Marcos

NOVUS Synopsis

Being a teenager is hard enough. And what if your life’s path is predetermined? On top of that, you aren’t even Human?  Cayden was given life as a Cresecren. He expected to live out his days with the dysfunctional Human family he was assigned to serve. One fateful night, however, landed him in Gavaron, the home of maimed, elderly, or defiant Cresecren.

Beyond its borders is the Den, an area much more dangerous than he ever imagined. Now seventeen, Cayden unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy and is one of a handful of survivors fleeing a deadly attack. They set off on a perilous journey in search of refuge and the truth. Along the way, Cayden begins to comprehend the difference between fully living and merely surviving, while trying to balance his emotions and a forbidden love.

NB: Can you tell us about your main character?

Cayden is a teenager who was created by Humans in their likeness and given life as a Cresecren. Most teenagers have choices. However, Cayden’s life’s path was predetermined for him. Through a series of catastrophic events, Cayden explores new experiences and feelings he never had the chance to before.

NB: How do you come up with new novel ideas?

Many of my ideas come the same way as I developed my newest book. The idea for Novus came to me over three years ago in a dream that jolted me awake. I wanted to go back to sleep, hoping to pick up where I left off. I didn’t, and kept thinking about it. I wanted to know more about the people in my dream, more about the setting, more about what was going on and where the story was leading. I finally have the answers, and am delighted to share them. Sometimes, I get ideas from daydreams too. I also get ideas from books I think would be fun to write and I would want to read.

NB: What projects can we expect from you in the future?

I want to continue writing in the Children’s and Young Adult genres. Since I love saving money, party planning, and making cakes, I may write a book about it someday. I have several ideas for books and would love to see them come to print. I am always creating and imagining. I also want to make a game (board or card) someday, perhaps one that would go with one of my books.

NB: What are your current writing projects now?

I am currently working on a children’s picture book and writing the second book in The Cresecren Chronicles.


Let’s thank Crystal for this great interview by checking out Novus!

#FridayReads: A Lovely Double Time Slip Moment

I’m reading Witches on the Road Tonight by Sheri Holman.

For the first 6% of the book (reading on a Kindle), I kept falling asleep.  The point of view kept changing and the story trying to be relayed was unclear.  By the time I advanced to approximately 16% read THEN it made sense.  The connections between the characters and who the major players was crystal clear by this point.  By 25%, I had it and I was enthused to see where and how the author was going to transport me (as I understand she did for many other readers).

I, too, am keen on this story and am enjoying this author’s bold voice and firm grip on language, style and her amazing ability to interweave the present and past in a single line, or paragraph.  The best part?  It makes sense and is thoroughly fabulous as a reader to “be” in two points of view (well, three actually!) simultaneously.

Here’s one such passage at 43% (Kindle Fire) from Sheri Holman’s Witches on the Road Tonight:

Then, wanting him to kiss her but not knowing how to make the request, Ann had stopped and, with eyes full of trust and complicity and something just a little challenging, asked Eddie the question Jasper now poses like a smart-ass, here, years later, in place of her whom they had left alone with guests, humiliated and drunk now, asking Cary once more what time he left, if Eddie had ordered dessert.  Jasper asks the question Wallis knew had been her mother’s part of the script that night, Are we supposed to believe this? and her father answers it int he same way he had answered her mother that night, as they stood int he center of the railroad tracks that disappeared in each direction off into the woods; he said, and he says: Now, once a year, on this very night, the conductor walks these lonely tracks, swinging his lantern, searching for his missing head…

As if on cue, far away, a point of light appears in the woods.  And as her mother and father watched, as they watch, it advances slowly, flirtatiously, bobbing like a cork on the water.  Wallis has heard of will-o’-wisps and swamp lights, but nothing prepares her for this inexplicable thing coming straight toward her, growing larger with each bounce.  It is a light like a rubber-band ball with no edge or ending, luminous, diffuse, just a brilliant exhalation of the night.


This book is my #FridayReads suggestion.  If you’re in-between books, think about this one.  You just might enjoy it.

Until next time — ta-ta for now,


7 Sites You’ve Got to Check Out About Journaling!

It’s mid-year.  Okay, a squoosh past mid-year.  Are you where you want to be with your writing goals?  No?  Yes?  Then, why not keep a journal?  Even if you are where you should be/want to be with your writing goals, maybe there are some articles you can read, that can help you excel even more so your WIP can be completed that much faster.  [Dare you hope!]

Here are some great writing tips, blog posts and websites that can share some info that may just be the inspiration you need to get going better, faster and more efficiently via journal writing.  Or, maybe these posts can help you to just get going! 🙂

  1. Writing Forward: This eight-year-old website has TONS of great writerly information to share including a really wonderful piece about descriptive writing.
  2. A great post about the healthy psychological benefits of journal writing specifically for military veterans:
  3. Writing to Heal – more on the benefits of journal writing to help us build a healthier immune system by the American Psychological Association (APA). (Who would have thunk it? That thing we do instead of sleep is actually good for us in some way!)
  4. Keeping a Journal to Remember Events – ‘nuf said.
  5. Dawn Herring is a Journaling Guru! Follow her site Refresh so that you can receive prompts & find inspiration for journaling from a new and different perspective.
  6. How and Why You Should Start a Daily Positive Journal – This is just in case you don’t journal…
  7. And for the last one, I couldn’t leave out a nod to the age-old discussion of paper?  Or, computer/laptop?  Here’s a recent study that may shed some factual information that you may, or may not!, like –

Ta-ta for now,


The #IndieRoar Challenge Winners!

#IndieRoar Challenge Winners!


And the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  And the winners are — wait! There’s a tie for first place! 

Kelly Sedinger – @Jaquandor – 1st Prize

Rose English – @RoseEnglishUK – 1st Prize

T.W. Barton – @TyWadeBooks – 3rd Prize

AND, there’s one more surprise winner!

Bonus Winner for Participation & Enthusiasm: Phillip T. Stephens – @stephens_pt

What’s your book prize loot?  Check them out below!  To claim your prizes, please email: noveldreams2007 at gmail dot com.

Author Name Book Title Genre Format # of Copies
Barbo, Holly Sunstone Steampunk Thriller Digital 1
Barret, Tabitha The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness Paranormal Romance Print (Signed) 1
Caldwell, Angela The Last Order SciFi/Fantasy – YA Print (Signed) 1
Caldwell, Angela The Last Order SciFi/Fantasy – YA Digital 2
Campbell, Rochelle Fury From Hell Paranormal Thriller Digital 3
Campbell, Rochelle Making Dollars & Sense Work Personal Finance/
Credit Repair
Print (Signed) 1
Cate, Marnie Remember: Protectors of the Elemental Magic Fantasy – YA Print 1
Chioffi, Barbara Angel Mine Erotic Fantasy Digital 1
Chioffi, Barbara Lycan Love Erotic Fantasy Digital 1
Comnick Straughan, Morgan Spirit Vision Christian Fantasy – YA Digital 1
Dawn, CK Cloak of Shadows Fantasy – YA Digital 1
Franklin, Michelle Khantara: Volume 1 SciFi/Fantasy Digital 1
Guy, Ryan Atomic Aardvark SciFi/Fantasy Print (Signed) 1
Guy, Ryan Atomic Aardvark SciFi/Fantasy Digital 2
Keller, K.J. The Threes Romance Digital 3
Keller, K.J. Africa Bush Creatures Safari Facts from A-Z Educational – Children Digital 1
Lynne, Patricia Being Human Supernatural – YA Digital 1
Lynne, Patricia Snapshots Supernatural – YA Digital 1
Mapstone, Deidre Sigrun, The Bandamann Saga Fantasy – YA Digital or Print 1
Marsden, Kelly S. The Shadow Rises Fantasy Print 1
Marsden, Kelly S. The Witch-Hunter Trilogy (The Shadow Rises, The Shadow Reigns, The Shadow Falls ) Fantasy Digital 1
McFarland, KM Song of the Vampire Dark Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Digital 1
McFarland, KM Under a Bourbon Street Moon Dark Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Digital 1
McFarland, KM Masquerade Dark Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Digital 1
Montague, Rose Norma Jean’s School of Witchery Urban Fantasy/Romance Print (Signed) 1
Morris, T.H. The 11th Percent SciFi/Fantasy Digital (PDF) 1
Morris, T.H. Item and Time SciFi/Fantasy Digital (PDF) 1
Norry, Jay Walking Between Worlds; Book 1: Demons & Angels Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Digital 1
Rockefeller, Laurel Cathering de Valois Nonfiction/History – All Ages Digital 3
Rockefeller, Laurel Mary Queen of the Scots Nonfiction/History – All Ages Digital 3
Rockefeller, Laurel Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni Nonfiction/History – All Ages Digital 3
Schneider, C.L. The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price Epic Fantasy Digital (Kindle) 1
Shaw, Mark The Keeper of the Wind Fantasy – YA Digital 1
Turner, Jacci Bending Willow Adventure – Middle Grade Digital 3
Turner, Jacci Terry The Cage Adventure – Middle Grade Digital 3
Vance, CE How Maxwell Grover Stole My House Adventure – Middle Grade Digital (PDF) 3
Whitley, Lu J BloodMarked Urban Fantasy/Romance Digital (Kindle) 3
Wright, Dan Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince Children’s – Action/Adventure Digital 1

1st Prize (2) – $25 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 6 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

3rd Prize – Choice of 3 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

Bonus Prize — Chose of 2 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

Congratulations to our first ever #IndieRoar Challenge winners!

As a reminder, we would love for the winners, and all of the Challenge’s participants, to share the love and give a review, or two, for Indie books you like after you’ve read them!

You can also find this post on the following blogs:

#IndieRoar Challenge – Day 10! (Final Day)


Pen your own perfect first sentence to your “Great American Novel” and tweet it! #IndieRoar

Today is the final day of our challenge.  Are you sad?  Are you glad?  Either way, we have to go out with a BANG.  What kind of  Indies would we be if we didn’t write something special for our readers?!

In honor of our collective readers, write the first line of your next novel, the novel you’d always dreamed you would write, the novel your mother/brother/teacher/mentor/friend/husband told you to write — write the first sentence of that book.

The end is nigh.  The fat…ahem…the lady has sung the final aria and the curtain is about to fall.  How will we remember you?  Haunt us. Pleasure us. Entertain us.  We’ll love you for it!

The winners are out there and the prizes are here…

1st Prize – $25 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 6 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

2nd Prize — $10 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 4 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

3rd Prize – Choice of 3Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

Winners will be announced on Friday, June 12th, 2015.

The books available for the winners to choose from, in addition to their gift cards, is posted on both blogs under “IndieRoar Challenge – Book Prize Listing & Catch Up!”

Remember, you can also find each day’s challenge pinned to the @NoteBkBlogairy Twitter account, and on the following blogs:

#IndieRoar Challenge – Day 5!

Marnie Cate_Day4_IndieRoar_6 4 2015

#IndieRoar Challenge – Day 5

Predict the title of your favorite Indie author’s next book! (Funny, or serious — you choose!) #IndieRoar

Okay folks — yesterday’s challenge was a hoot! On straight retweets alone, Marnie Cate’s Photoshopped tweet “won” the day with 20 retweets and 17 faves (see it above).  Then, Keeley’s got second place with 13 retweets.  CE Vance’s Photoshopped tweet came in third with 11 retweets. (By the time you read this things may change but that’s the lay of the land right this second!)

You are all clearly up to the badass Indie challenges we’re throwing your way! Congrats to you all. You made us ALL smile.

Today’s challenge is more intellectual.  We want to know just how well you know — or, think you know! — your favorite Indie author and his/her work.  Tell us what you think they will name their next work.  You can’t tell us a book name that the author has already shared via cover reveal, or an interview! 🙂

Pick another series of theirs, or think about a standalone your chosen Indie Author may very well pen one day.

As always…keep it Indie trendy!

Ya-huh.  We’re back to telling you what you’re going to get if you win this thing!

Here are the prizes:

1st Prize – $25 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 6 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

2nd Prize — $10 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 4 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

3rd Prize – Choice of 3Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

Winners will be announced on Friday, June 12th, 2015.

You may be wondering about the books that you will choose from once you win, right?  We’ve got that coming! We’ll post the list of books on both blogs below tomorrow, June 5th at 10:00 am EDT in time for #FridayReads.  For your convenience, we’ll pop it in your inbox, too!

Remember, you can also find each day’s challenge pinned to the @NoteBkBlogairy Twitter account, and on the following blogs:

#IndieRoar Challenge – Day 1


#IndieRoar Challenge – Day 1


Easy Peasy. Tell us what #Indie book you’re #Currentlyreading right now. #IndieRoar

Oh, and don’t forget to include the #IndieRoar hashtag so we can see your entry!

And yes, this challenge is easy!  But know that it’s the easiest one you’re going to get! We’re going to start hitting higher octane levels from here on out. 🙂

However, if you’re like say, an Indie badass and you wanted to get all fancy and do — say — a video review of your current read.  Or, a blog-a-licious shout out linking back to your favorite series — bring it on!

‘Cause at the end of the 10 days, there will be 3 winners.

Here are the prizes:

1st Prize – $25 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 6 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

2nd Prize — $10 Amazon Gift Card + Choice of 4 Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

3rd Prize – Choice of 3Indie Books from participating #IndieBooksBeSeen Authors

Winners will be announced on Friday, June 12th, 2015.

Remember, you can also find each day’s challenge pinned to the @NoteBkBlogairy Twitter account, and on the following blogs:

Can’t wait to hear your first day’s roar!