Captivate, Inspire…Dream.

Sometimes writing’s hard to do.  At other times, it’s effortless.  But then there are the times when you’re like — Writing, who?

I’m a writer and I confess.  I get writer’s block. <sitting down>

Most of  the time the wordless time periods come from having a lot going on in my personal life.  For instance, the last 3 years has been rather dry.  Why?  I am an older woman who now has a 3-year-old, a son in college and one in his last year of high school.  <Dumb.  I get it.>

That leaves me in a position of parenting up, and down.  Needs have changed.  Diets have morphed.  And my need for sleep has skyrocketed.  <Yeah, uh-huh.>  Then, there’s just the shocks of life, the absence of life via passing to that next realm of which we know little.  That happened late last year to three close family members.  I was devastated.

How do you move forward without negating their existences?  Without “properly” mourning them?  This is what I’ve finally learned — you LIVE.  You continue to do what you know you’re supposed to do.  For me, that’s to write.  To go to my day job.  To have deep conversations with my children.  To play with my daughter.  To wrestle with my budget to make it stretch further.  To be human.

That’s why I’ve stopped the madness and forced myself to look at my ‘inventory.’  My longer works still are in need of editing.  However, my short fiction was in pretty decent shape.  So, The SciFi End of the Supernatural, a collection of science fiction short stories came into being.  It will be available on Jan 30th in print and ebook formats.

This book wouldn’t have been possible without my writing communities #WriteStuff and #StoryDam.  Both groups support me, and listen to me, and I them.  They help me get it that writers are a kooky bunch.  We’re NOT normal, nor were we ever meant to be.  That’s the way it is.

Our job is to translate the madness in our psyches into readily digestible written forms of entertainment so that you can pass the time away when your life becomes overwhelming.  That’s what we do.

What do you do to captivate, inspire and dream?


Developing One’s Writing Voice

For the past few months, I’ve been speaking with writer friends, reading about how other’s find their writing voices, and have been ruminating on this topic in quiet moments.  With all of this, what have I come to?

Finding one’s writing voice is intensely personalized.  No one way works for each and every writer.  Each writer must find his, or her, own way over whatever time period that the process takes.

For me, the process involves finding my true self, the self buried under the foolishness and mundane layers of social propriety.  Yeah, the real me!  LOL. (Scary!)

voice and voice bubbles chart

What I’ve found is that I like to write different things at different times.  I would not self-identify as only a “horror” writer, or only a “SciFi” writer, or a “women’s fiction” writer.  I would say I am a writer moved to write about different life experiences.

I’m finding my voice by writing different things, by trying different genres and seeing how it feels as I complete these projects.  With some projects I love the way I feel as I am writing.  With other projects, I absolutely abhor what I write and the emotional pulses as I write repulse me.  These are all signs to me that I never really paid attention to before.  I just wrote.  Now, I am writing to find out what I really want and like to write.  This is probably something I should have figured out before but I was told we could write anything we want to write.  We’re writers, after all.  True.  But each of us has our own personal writing path/journey.  I guess I am clarifying what my path is right now.  It’s my time.

writing painting of voice_voltaire

I like Voltaire’s quote.  It comforts me.  And, most importantly, I find it to be true.  My writing voice reflects where I am at that moment in time.

What has your journey been?  How have you found your writing voice?

Bleeding on the Page

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  And, there’s a lot going on good stuff, mainly.  My day job’s been quite busy.  My children are growing up but still needing time and attention.  (Gee, imagine that.  They still need a mom…)  And, to boot, I added in some fun work in mid-April — curating the Horror Writers Association Twitter feed.  I am one of the contributors.

Did I mention that my New Year’s goal for 2016 was to write a new short story each month?  Oh, and then try to submit a story, or two, each month?  (Not necessarily the one just written.  I do have quite a few stories written from previous times that I NEVER did anything with; except write them.)

So, I’m in the middle of all of this.  Hubby just keeps watching me and asking if I’m alright.  As well he should!

Going along now for several months and my writing goal is going as planned.  But in April, I hit a snag.  Yes, that’s when I took on a bit of extra fun work and I had to get used to fitting in the work curating entailed.  That took a few weeks but then all of a sudden it was PitDark (May 12, 2016)!  I had only a few days to prepare.  It crept up on me.  And that’s when the big wham-o happened.

What the heck was I doing writing a graphic horror novel?!  (This thought comes fully two years after it’s written; 102K+ words.)  Shocker to my system, I tell ya.  You think you know yourself and then — oops, you don’t.

Somehow, this book poured out of me and characters were born (a few died, of course).  An awesome book cover is all in place and I’m feeling like a skittish bride — right before PitDark.  You could say it was classic cold feet as it was my first online pitchfest.  You could say it was fear of rejection.  You could say it was regret at not having written say, a romantic comedy.  You could.  What do I say?  I dunno.

I ignored the sensations, prepped my tweets in advance.  Had writer friends peek at them.  I revised them.  Took the day off so I could focus on the tweets and possibly revise my tweets as the day went on (as advised by many experienced pitchfest attendees/hosts).  I was as prepped as possible.  And what happened?  I received one ‘official’ like late in the day after having held my breath ALL day.  Imagine my exultation at knowing someone out there in publishing wanted to take a gander at my full MS!  Wahoo!  I happydanced until my heart felt it would burst (all of 30 seconds).  Then, I got to work submitting my book the proper way.  It took me a couple hours to get it all done.  Now, for the hard part — the waiting for a response.  I’m still waiting.  LOL.  That’s publishing folks.

During this time, I re-focused back on my short stories and wrote two new stories in May and increased my stories in submission by 3.  Total stories in submission right now is just under 10.

Even with all of this activity, there’s a thing still happening with me.  What’s that thing?  The question of what kind of writer am I.  I researched and talked to some writing friends and researched some more.  The most helpful article I found is this one by Holly Lisle:

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice

There are many pieces out there but this one resonated with me especially because it suggested I create lists — I love lists! 🙂 — More importantly, you’re supposed to play games with your lists.  How frickin’ cool is that?  (Yes, yes.  Nerdy writer.)

Feeling some kind of way about having hit this particular wall so many years into my writing career.  I definitely thought I had my ‘voice’ down pat.  It seems I didn’t, don’t.  This is the underlying discomfort I had surrounding the horror novel.

But, here’s the thing.  That novel?  It came so easily!  The voice, the characters, the plotting, the plot shifts — it all flowed so well.  Some of it scared me out of my wits.  It’s supposed to — it’s a horror novel.  But, I didn’t think about it, I just wrote.  I was also pregnant with my third child during the majority of the writing of that story.  Maybe that freed me up and allowed the story out.

Now, I am past postpartum emotions.  I’m back to ‘me’ again.  And, herein lies the problem.  I’m back to me.  The horror novel?  I did what Hemingway suggested.  I sat at my laptop and bled a little.  Maybe, more than a little.  While pregnant, it didn’t bother me.  Now, not pregnant.  It bothers me — a lot.

Hemingway_bleed 2 quote

It seems I played it ‘safe’ with my stories and my readers.  Without getting pregnant again, how do I bleed onto the pages?  That’s the question.  Working through it.  Will let you know when I come out the other side…



Re-Jiggering the Ship

It’s truly fascinating how the mind plays tricks on us.  We think we are striving and pushing towards xyz goal, right?  And somehow, years pass and the goal is not realized.  We stop.  Scratch our collective head and wonder aloud what went wrong.

We review our steps.  That’s always the best way to go right?  But alas, we don’t see anything we’ve done incorrectly.  We begin looking around for *experts* who can direct us, help us to see what we may have missed.  We get bounced about as the expert suggests someone else.  Then, second expert waffles and redirects us yet again.  Finally, we arrive at an expert who stops the whole parade of silliness and states the problem.

What do we find out?  That we did all of the work.  We did what we were supposed to do.  We took the proper and necessary steps — for the wrong area/genre/niche!

turning ship around

The solution?  Do it ALL OVER AGAIN for the proper area of our goal.  Sheesh.

Life as a writer is challenging.  Heck, Life as a person is challenging!  LOL.

And how was your week?

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

What’s Happening with The Fury?


This is a quick update to let readers of the From Hell series know what’s going on with their favorite 700+ year old demon.  Fury From Hell is not available, at the moment, as I am doing some additional edits to the book and some expansions.  Based upon reader feedback, I wanted to be as attentive as possible and bring even more to the table.  This way, when Demon From Hell (book 2), hits you — you will be ready for it!


Inspiration for Book 2: Demon From Hell

To find out when, in early 2016, Book 1 will be re-released, and when Book 2 will be released, please subscribe to the “From Hell” series notification list by clicking HERE. (It will take you to my author page  There will be special discounts and giveaways for subscribers only (and, not just of my own books!).

Please feel free to share any, and all, comments about Fury From Hell and your thoughts!  If you’d like to share your review in the comments below, that would be awesome!  Rock out! 🙂

All the best to each and every one of you & thank you for stopping by!

Warm regards,


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,