I have a VitaMix and there is no way I’m going to use it to make my paper, so I went to Walmart and bought a 56 ounce blender for $20. By creating my own paper from junk mail I can also add things like flowers, flower petals, glitter to my pulpy mess. I haven’t made anything yet since I just purchased the blender.
I think a hand crafted journal is going to be a great contest prize. The winner can use it for themselves or give it as gift. Maybe sewing isn’t something your interested in, but this might be something for you to explore. This could be a project you can do with your kids. There are lots of video’s on book binding. I love Nik the Booksmith, Sea Lemon and Jenniebellie’s video’s on book binding methods.
Homemade papermaking will work for all the areas of writing I do. As with most creatives when I sew, paint, or do crafting it helps stimulate my imagination and writing. In a previous post I had mentioned holding a contest for my blog subscribers. I signed up for Rafflecopter, so you’ll be seeing a contest in the near future.
I wanted to share my favourite sewing and refashioning resources with you. One the things I’ve missed most during the pandemic is the chance to go and poke around in my local thrift stores. Recycling and upcycling items help my creativity while giving something a brand new life. To some people this sort of activity isn’t fun, but for me it’s exciting. So, if any of you are contemplating the joys of refashioning and upcycling come along with me.
I understand not everyone is excited about sewing, refashioning, and thrifting. If you know someone who is please pass the link to this post to them and share the love.
There is a difference between recycling and upcycling. RECYCLING is the destruction of waste and making something new. Example: Automobile windshield glass made into drinking glasses.
UPCYCLING it taking an item and creating something new from it in the current state it is in. Upcycling is creative and reduces the need for recycling. Example: My purse made from a pair of old blue jeans. I get lots of complements on this purse and I love it. Pinterest has lots of ideas for upcycling denim as well as other sewing projects.
Jillian of ReFashionista.net is the one person I credit with giving me the courage to even attempt refashioning. She gives clear directions and warns you of possible pitfalls along the way. I love her sweet, bright personality that’s bursting with creativity. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look at all her wonderful creations. https://refashionista.net/refashions/dress-refashions/
After the ReFashionista got me enthralled with refashioning I found other ladies who are of the same mindset. I came across Beth of The Renegade Seamstress creates amazing refashions like Jillian. Beth has wonderful videos that show you step-by-step how to create a variety of projects for yourself, your family, and your home. If you’re looking for a book with a great variety of refashioning projects check out Beth’s book. I’ve already chosen the first project to make out of my copy. You can find the Renegade Seamstress here: https://therenegadeseamstress.com/
I wanted to add So Sew Easy is another fab resource. These ladies have a nice variety of projects and at various difficulty levels for wherever you are in your sewing journey. https://so-sew-easy.com/
Some of you know I love vintage clothing and I’ve found some amazing designer/seamstresses. Bernadette Banner has absolutely gorgeous Victorian/Edwardian period clothing. I think if I ever met her we would be friends. She made an Inverness coat and a Lady Sherlock outfit, an 1890s ballgown. If your interested in this era of fashion, please visit Bernadette’s YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSHtaUm-FjUps090 S7crO4Q/videos
For 1920s era on up, Evelyn Wood is fantastic. I believe she has course on Teachable, too. I just love her personality and the way she explains how and why she makes the decisions she does in her refashions or whatever garment she’s creating. I love learning about vintage sewing skills. You can find Evelyn here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ59owAiWL2IgaANbG-jm0Q
For dress eye candy on Instagram I always look at Molly Nguyen Designs. Her exquisite ballgowns and wedding dresses with floof and sparkle make me so happy.
If you’ve always wanted to try sewing or upcycling I hope I’ve given you enough places to encourage you to step in and give this a try. Or, if you have some basic sewing skills you’ll find plenty of places here to inspire you.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, pianist extraordinaire, gave up on true love when her high school boyfriend, Nick Stephens, ran off to marry his pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Nick’s daughter shows up in her music class eleven years later. One look at the man, and old dreams come back to life. She must find a way to keep the little girl and Nick out of her heart. She won’t risk losing everything again.
Nick Stephens has other plans. Sarah is, and always has been, the love of his life and he’s back in Burton, TX to prove it. But there are secrets Nick must keep, from Sarah and his daughter. Secrets that could destroy everything he hopes to build. Can their second chance survive new secrets?
When I began writing I started out with articles and studying children’s literature. Gaining a bit of confidence, I submitted one of my articles to a local writing group’s contest. It was the first time I’d entered my writing in a contest before and I was nervous.
I won third place! One of judges contacted me about publishing my article in his magazine. He was active in Toastmasters International and he had a dynamic presence. A few years later I joined Toastmasters International and it gave me the confidence to speak to an audience about writing and teaching. What does this have to do with writing short stories, you’re asking. Well, writing a speech uses the same skills. You need to be focused, making every word count, have a beginning, middle and end, leading to a satisfying conclusion.
On my bookshelves I have several writing craft books by Jack M. Bickham, a former Creative Writing Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Bickham was a protégé of the late Dwight Swain.
Much of the information in Bickhams books still apply today. Years ago, I had the honour of meeting him. He was a gracious and gentle man. If there had been a way for me to take his university courses I would have jumped at the chance. Jack Bickham wrote over eighty novels, and three books for Writer’s Digest Books. Mr. Bickham also wrote The Apple Dumpling Gang which was made into a movie in the 1970s-early 1980s, I think.
Study the masters of short story writing. What story situations do they tackle? How do they create characters you relate to?
Here’s what I’ve learned writing short stories and information from Mr. Bickham. I hope this will give you a place to start. Learning to write short can be a fun challenge.
Tambra’s Short Story Tips
Write out what you know about the characters and the story you want to tell. Go through it and edit out the parts that don’t push the story forward. In short stories you usually find two to three characters because you don’t have the room for more.
Remember this is a short story. Traditional short story word lengths run from 1,500 (six pages) to 5,000 words (roughly 20 double spaced pages.)
Six pages is going to call for some concentrated, concise writing. Twenty pages still means you need a narrow focus and must making every word count. Some people find writing short easier than writing long. This will take some practice but don’t forget to have fun. I believe writing should be fun and exciting.
When writing a novel, you have the luxury of delving deeper into the GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) of your main characters and villain, a complex plot with room for a bit of backstory. Flashbacks and backstory slow the pace of your story which is why they must be trickled in. If you’re unfamiliar with GMC I highly recommend Debra Dixon’s book, GMC. I can’t tell you how much it helped me. From her I learned to love plotting.
Drop your character into trouble as soon as you can. But make sure the situation can be resolved in a satisfying manner in allotted number of pages you have available. Rushing the ending will make the reader feel cheated and dissatisfied.
Remember you don’t have time for long passages of backstory so a few sentences to let the reader know. Example: Gina and Dee Dee met at college and Gina invites Dee Dee over for supper and a study session.
Gina opened the door holding her new puppy. “Come on in!”
Dee Dee white knuckle gripped her tote bag and licked her lips. “Can’t. Dog.” Her brain and body were frozen.
Gina frowned and walked back. “A bad experience with dogs?”
Dee Dee nodded.
“She’s asleep. Can you hear her snoring?”
Dee Dee stepped inside and closed the door. “A neighbor’s Chow Chow jumped the fence and bit me.I was three years old. I’ve been scared of dogs no matter the size since then.” She swallowed. “I have wanted to pet a puppy. It would nice to at least be able to do that.”
Gina sat on the sofa and Dee Dee followed. “If you want you try softly petting her with your index finger on her head.”
Slowly Dee Dee reached out and stroked the Westie’s head. Her fur was so soft! The knots in her chest and stomach loosened making it easier to breathe. She did it. She actually pet a dog.
In the example I didn’t do a long flashback on Dee Dee’s situation that led to her getting bit. The readers need to care about the characters. Everyone has been scared, so we understand how hard this must have been for Dee Dee.
Your plot will probably be on specific event that can be handled within the limits of the genre. Give just enough information about the setting so the reader isn’t confused.
The other elements of fiction writing apply. Adding in the senses, enough description so the reader is transported and can visualize it. Check the flow and pace of your story.
Every word, every sentence counts. Readers emotions, their hearts, must be pulled in and engaged in the story you are telling. Writing short will serve you well if you write longer pieces of fiction. Writing short it forces you to write tighter and more concise. You’ll find yourself getting to the heart of a scene much quicker.
I’ve never regretted started out writing short pieces of fiction and nonfiction.
I hope this post helps you understand the basics of writing short stories. It’s really fun! I hope you give it a try. You might like it.
I’ve been trying to figure out which of my books to offer as a gift to everyone. I don’t offer my books for free very often so if you’ve wanted a copy of my cookbook now’s the time. From December 24th to the 28th you will have the opportunity to download a digital copy of The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes. So far, the response has been very positive and I’m grateful for all the 4 and 5 star reviews.
My cookbook has a few original recipes included with classic tea time favourites. Included are US and British equivalents for measurements, oven temperature conversion chart, and cooking terms for US and British. Included is a section on Spirited Beverages. There’s a difference between whiskey and whisky (and not just the spelling). There is also a bartender chart for standard and metric measurements for common and uncommon alcohol quantities. We can’t forget the children! There’s a section on cambric tea with cookies and sandwiches to delight kids of all ages.
Writing is an intense, personal experience. To create characters we draw on people we know or have known in the past, relatives, experiences from our youth and those more recent.
Sometimes I deliberately choose a mannerism or attitude from someone in my past in character creation. Other times, the process is subtle. People watching (before COVID) was interesting and fun. I’d listen to the conversation and take notes on how the people acted with each other physically, verbally, and non verbally. All is fodder for characterization and a major component of making story magic. Once a character begins to come alive it sparkles with energy! In your mind’s eye they are becoming more than a cardboard character on the page.
If you’re starting out on your writing journey, please understand that you can’t create a character that is exactly like someone you know. Hard feelings and more trouble than you’d care to have is the result. Instead, you create a character that is a blend of good and not-so-good traits. No one is perfect and readers can’t relate to perfection. Some notable characters that are easily recognised are Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, the Mad Scientist, the lone cowboy/drifter.
As a writer we can use these characters but put our own spin on them. If we don’t write what we love it will appear within the pages of our stories. The reader is cheated and as the creator, we are also cheating ourselves. Explore other genres and study the characters within the pages. What is it about them that catches your attention?
Three dimensional characters touch our hearts. The Harry Potter series, The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, and Louise Rennison’s The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson are just a few characters who’ve taken teens (and adults) on adventures reaching beloved status through the years.
I’m always striving to hone my skills as a writer. I want to give the reader the best story I can. I want my story magic to shine. Years from now, I want readers to say, “I loved Tambra’s characters. I reread her books because it’s like visiting old friends.”
Let me know if you would be interested in a short series on writing topics such as characterization, plotting, or world building.
Do you have your word count calendar ready? No? Here’s a basic one for you. If you check the NaNo forums people have created some really great calendars. If you can create your own that’s awesome! As you can tell, I love this writing event and look forward to it every year. The writing energy from it is amazing.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Fill out character sheets on your main characters and the villain(s)/antagonist. The more you know them, the easier it will be when you’re plotting.
Write down what you know of the story.. Write off to the side and highlight or use various colours of pens to and figure out where it belongs such as the Inciting Incident, plot point 1, midpoint. On another page write start writing out the plotting system you use and fill in the information from the story synopsis. Once the plot page is completed you’ll be able to tell at a glance where your story is going and what elements your missing. This is roadmap. A story draft get the idea down with the characters, some brilliant gems will be there with the excitement and passion for this creation.
After you’ve gotten the draft down then put your thoughts into the editing process. NaNo isn’t the time for being nitpicky over every sentence. I use a ** in a colour that stands out to indicate I need to add something in a NaNo manuscript. Example: Heroine does blah blah blah ** this spot needs more research on medicinal herbs for burns; besides the obvious aloe vera**
I hope this short blog post helps you with NaNo. Go forth and slay the editor that sits on your shoulder (at least for November!).
A short blog post to let you know I’ll be participating in two Halloween Parties on Facebook. The first event is one I’m hosting on the 24th. The second party is for the Gothic Romance Writers Chapter I’m president of. There will be prizes and the opportunity to meet and find new authors to read.
The prizes I’ll be offering: ebook of my cookbook, The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes and the ebook, Wicked Temptations, a spicy, paranormal romance with magic and faeries. Don’t forget to mark your calendar!
I hope you can make it to these parties. I would love to chat with you!
Do you have a Babycakes machine but don’t use it much? I have the one with the interchangeable plates. I like that it doesn’t heat up my kitchen like the oven does. I’m in Texas and the temps are still in the 80s. But you can also make small batches and that’s nice, too.
You can make more than cake pops in them. Why not try a batch of hush puppies? Or Pizza Bites? I forgot where I got this recipe or else I would attribute it to the person. These would be great for a family movie night or game night (like Monopoly or Scrabble).
Babycakes Pizza Poppers
2 cups Bisquick 2 tsp Italian Seasoning 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 c Mozzarella cheese, grated 1/2 cup Pepperoni, finely chopped 1/2 cup Cooked Sausage, finely chopped Pizza Sauce, warmed
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine liquid ingredients and add to the dry ingredients. Fold in cheese, pepperoni and sausage. The batter should be a thick pancake batter consistency, if it get too thick, stir in more milk until it reaches desired thickness.
I put the batter into a gallon plastic bag and cut off a corner (remember there are chunks of meat so the opening will need to accommodate) to easily fill the wells. Cook for 4 minutes. ***A note from Tambra: You might have to cook a little longer than the recipe calls. I always make a test batch of a couple and adjust as necessary.
I haven’t used my Babycakes maker much but with the weather cooling down a bit I plan to use it more and for making Smudge some homemade dog treats while I have it out. Have any of you made your homemade dog treats in the you Babycakes treat maker? I have the Dog Treat maker and it occurred to me that it was a Babycakes for dogs, so why not use my machine to make Smudgie pupcakes?
These appliances are a blessing to a person who has health issues. I have two Instant Pots, the 6 quart and a mini 3 quart. I use them so much I have them sitting on my kitchen counter. Getting an Instant Pot for Christmas was the best present I could have asked for! I make pork loin that falls apart it is so tender. Recently, I made turkey tenderloins and they came out wonderful. Pinto beans come out great, too.
The learning curve on these kitchen helpers isn’t steep. A little experimenting and using a notebook to write down your adjustments is all you need.
I hope this post has given you some ideas on how you can get more use out of these kitchen gadgets sitting on the shelf. Have a tea party or a picnic to celebrate…anything you want.
A minute into November 1 me and thousands of crazy writers across the world will begin NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a rough draft of a book 50,000 which = 200 pages. It’s free to sign up and there are forums on lots of topics and friendly people ready to help and answer questions. I am one of those people who waits until one minute past midnight into November 1 to begin National Novel Writing Month.
For me it’s been a wonderful and freeing experience. Have you always wanted to write a book? No better time to begin than November 1.
There are blogs and YouTube videos dedicated to this topic. October is also known in the writing community (at least by some of us) as Preptober. Getting an outlines or notes down in preparation for November 1.
If you have a child interested in creative writing, NaNo has a program for them, and teachers who would like to do this with their students. https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/
So many people say they want to write a book. Why not take that first step and do it. The first draft is always crappy, that’s why we edit. The draft gets the story down, the journey of the characters. NaNoWriMo pushes you to write and ignore your inner editor and write. NaNo helped me finish my first 200 page novel.
Pissed about 2020? Put it in a story. Mystery, thriller, science fiction, romantic suspense whatever genre you write in or want to write pour your emotions onto the page.
Now is the perfect time to write a book. Don’t wait for someday. Be brave and join the millions of us who help others see the beauty and wonder of the worlds within the pages of our books. We’re waiting for you. Take my hand…we’ll go together.
For years, I thought this was it, The Wallace Family trilogy. I read A Wrinkle in Time to my sixth graders every year during the 80s as I discovered it with them. Later, I read A Wind in the Door and reread it recently. I do not think I ever read A Swiftly Tilting Planet until now, as I began my Madeline L’Engle “project”–to read as much by and about her as I could. The…
The other news I wanted to share is I have a shop at Society6. If you’re looking for unique gift ideas, I just might have something to fill that need. Or, if you’d just like to see some of my photography you can do that, too. https://society6.com/tambranicole
Y’all know that I love dogs and this story has terrier pups. It also has a heroine who is dealing with a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia. She doesn’t let it stop her, though. No one is perfect. We all deal with something. I think it’s all in your attitude and I try to create characters that are three dimensional and relatable to readers.
Still working on the Rafflecopter giveaway. Should be up in the next few days. Is anyone listening to Christmas music yet? One of our local radio stations started this month playing it and I’ve been listening. When I cook Thanksgiving dinner I’ll do my annual listening to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and maybe some Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who put on an amazing show.
I’m writing this because of a very recent event in my life. Not happy about this at all. I’m upset and scared but I’ve got books to finish and publish, books to start, art to create and sell. I have a wonderful husband and a rowdy Cairn terrier. I’m going to do what I have to until I learn more of what’s going on with my body.
On November 3rd I had to go back for a second mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound. This has never happened before. They found a spot of something. I hope it’s a cyst. Please pray that all will be well. The Doctor and technician said they can’t tell what it is because it’s so small. In six months I return for another mammogram and most likely the spot will have to be biopsied so we can learn what it is. This is a perfect example of why you should be getting your yearly mammograms.
The doctor who came in was really nice but before I left she said, “if you don’t want to get cancer you need start eating a Keto diet.” She wanted to know what oils I cooked with and how I cooked. I answered I was doing The French Don’t Diet style of eating, which is basically a form of the Mediterranean diet. Since it the French way has carbs and sugar, I won’t be able to eat like I used to and it’s going to take some research and time to get my freezer, fridge and pantry stocked with Keto items.
About eight years ago I had to have a second mammogram and they found the spot was a fatty deposit. That was the first first time I’d ever had any issues.
Please don’t put off getting a mammogram. The pain is about 15 seconds for each image they take. I can honestly tell you it’s so much better now than when I had it done years ago. You can do this. Schedule that mammogram if you’ve been putting it off.
I’m grateful there are dedicated scientists and doctors working together to make diagnosis easier. I want to thank The Rose in Houston for their exceptional, dedicated staff.
This Keto journey is going to be interesting. I hope y’all don’t mind the occasional blog post about how the Keto is working with recipes.
As soon as I can get Rafflecopter set up I’ll be giving away a physical copy of my cookbook with a few other goodies as a thank you for y’alls continued support and giving me the honour of sharing things that I love. I know everyone is busy and when I do blog my goal is to give you information that is helpful and uplifting.
I’ll be doing a contest/giveaway just for my newsletter subscribers in December.
Sending you love and light. Be kind to one another.
Ex-stewardess, now USA Today bestselling author of happy ever afters. This is where I chat about my books, writing and the writing life. My love of animals, nature, whimsy and magic, just about anything interesting. Cozy, not glam. Kindness always. If you'd rather look for cool stones than buy shoes, and love the smell of woods after rain, you'll feel at home here. Bonus points for cat lovers. Welcome aboard!