It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month which is why I decided to post this topic. I hope you find it helpful wherever you are in your writing journey.

This information is taken from my book, The Writer’s Creativity Journal. It’s available from Amazon in print and ebook. The Writer’s Creativity Journal


Brainstorming is where your creativity can have fun. This is isn’t just for starting a story. Brainstorming happens throughout the writing of a book. For the purposes of this Writing Creativity Journal, you’ll probably utilize this tool to scribble ideas down.

It isn’t hard and it can be really fun. I believe it’s a process that should be used from beginning to end. Learning to hone this skill will prove invaluable in providing focus and a story that will surprise the reader because you didn’t choose the easy route.

This is where it all begins! Aren’t you excited? You should be. So many ideas are waiting for you to discover them. If this isn’t something you’ve tried before, give it a chance.

Some of you might not need to use this technique all the time, but when you do need to pull this out of your writing toolbox it will be there. In time you may find you’ll be brainstorming more and more.

The left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other but it’s flawed. Of course, this flows into our writing. We develop ways to stop the inner editor (the left) from interfering with the creative process. This is where those little negative comments come from such as “that’s dumb” or “I can’t believe you wrote something so stupid.”  One way to stop the nagging left to shut up is to work fast with the right side, not giving the analytical portion a chance to formulate anything.

After writing for so many years I find I brainstorm throughout my project. I constantly use it to keep me focused on the story and characters. Through trial and lots of error, I’ve learned what questions to ask myself when something isn’t right. Some of you may do this already. Learning how to do this can save time and frustration.

The beauty of brainstorming is in its versatility. It helps when you don’t have much of anything for your story or when you have too much information crowding your brain. Even if you think you can’t brain today, you’d be surprised at some of the ideas squeezing through.



From scraps to nothing at all:

When your mind is like a blank sheet of paper on a topic. Your inspiration has dried like a puddle of water in the summer sun. Outside forces such as anxiety about the topic you’re writing on can be a problem. Or for a multitude of reasons your mind is too tired to put together an outline of any kind (let alone a coherent sentence.) In this case, brainstorming stirs up the dust whips some air into still pools of thought, and the breeze of inspiration moves again. Choose the method that suits the dominant side of your brain and have fun!

When you have too much information:

There are times when chaos reigns and you need to bring in some conscious order. In this case, brainstorming forces the mental mess and random thoughts to pour onto the page. This gives you some concrete words or schemas that you can then arrange according to their logical relations. The picture becomes clearer and other ideas are stirred, in turn enriching the story or characters.

How do you know when to brainstorm?

When bits and pieces of a story keep nagging at you to get it down on paper or whatever device you write on, then you know it’s time to sit down and begin the process of sorting out information.

This is the time for exploring possibilities. Give yourself permission to create, be crazy and let go. Don’t worry if you write something stupid, just ignore it and go on. Lock up the inner editor for now. Let it out later. If it helps bribe your inner critic with chocolate, ice cream, a movie whatever works for you.

Once you finish, go over what you’ve created. Again, don’t automatically say it’s all crap or stupid. Be open to how something could become a unique plot twist or a possibility for backstory or a current problem for one of your characters. Sometimes a fresh perspective of looking at the problem from a different point of view is all it takes to put you back where you should be with your story.

A Word About NaNoWriMo

For those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo for the first time or since it’s inception, I wish you the best. Don’t feel bad if you don’t finish. So many writers beat themselves up over it. Whatever word count you end up with is more than what you started with for the project. You have the added benefit of meeting new writers and learning new things from the forums. If you have aspiring novelists in your family, this could be a great family project. NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program. National Novel Writing Month

I made a NaNo Word Count Chart for anyone needs one.


See you soon!




Character Goals

Character Goals

When you’re creating characters, they need goals. A clear, specific goal that is vital to the character’s happiness tells the reader what to worry about. It powers the story along with motivation and conflict. These are foundation elements for solid writing and storytelling.

I can’t praise Debra Dixon’s book GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict enough. Her book helped me understand so many areas that were muddied in the writing techniques I’d been trying for so long to grasp.

Bits and pieces shone through from time to time that resonated with me, but the getting the whole picture eluded me. You’ll see much of her wisdom in this blog post along with a few others.

Once I discovered how closely characterization and plotting are related, the mega-ton of writing crap I’d been slogging through disappeared. This was a major breakthrough. When you read this, please remember that each of us have strengths and weaknesses in our writing. What comes easy for me may be the thorn in your side; which makes this a writing goal. Do you accept the challenge?


Goals are everywhere. Like the characters we’re discussing are you going to take action to improve your skills in the craft of writing?

Writing is complicated, yet simple. Once you think about it, it does make sense.

There are details and nuances that can take years to fully grasp but when you do, there is an added richness to your stories and characters. I find that’s one of the many beautiful things about writing.


Being a life-long learner of the craft of a wordsmith is exciting, exasperating and humbling. By the very nature of putting words to paper, creating a three dimensional character and infusing it with life, you bare parts of yourself in each fictional world and the people who reside in it.

Learning external goal, motivation and conflict was easier than internal for me. As I look back I think because I was in an abusive marriage and in survival mode all of the time, deep introspection wasn’t something I was able to do to the fullest extent. Like puzzle pieces forming a partial picture, I became frustrated at myself for not grasping this aspect of writing like I desired to improve or rise to the next level of progress.

Here is a brief look at goal, motivation and conflict. I hope you’ll find something here that will help you in your writing.


The goal is what the character wants to achieve, something they desire or are passionate about.  This is something they will go to great lengths to obtain. The character will take action to reach their goal. The character will not give up because it is essential to their well-being, their happiness that they reach this goal. The character’s goal has made him/her motivated and determined to keep control of his/her life.

This is kind of character is someone a reader can care about.

And when a character takes action, it creates plot. This is where characterization and plot come together and show you can’t have one without the other.

The above sentence is vitally important. Post it by your computer if you need to.

I know some of this material may sound simple, but understanding the why and how characterization and plot go together will build the strong foundation of the story.

The characters have to care about their goal, it must be important to them or they won’t care enough to take action. Example: Maggie has two small children. She needs a job and money to buy food. This is important, urgent for this character. We can sympathize and/or empathize with her. Food and shelter are basic necessities of life.

Be sure the goals of the hero/heroine conflict with each other and the villain. All of these characters have their own desires and a plan on getting what they want. The villain can’t be a wimp or else everything will be too easy for the hero and the reader will be mad.

Definition of External Goal: External is something that is concrete. You can touch, taste, smell, see and hear. It’s physical.

Definition of Internal Goal: Internal is something that affects the emotions, spirituality, life lessons.

To create a character that’s three dimensional they need to have both internal and external goals. Pause for a minute and consider what internal and external goals you have. How does one affect the other? There are long term goals, short term, scene goals.


This is the outline I use when I plot my romances. You might have something else that keeps you on track. Of course, use what works for you. I find it helps looking at the methods other writer’s use. If there’s an area that doesn’t quite work and needs tweaked look at what other writers are doing. It might help.

Opening scene: This is the point where the character’s normal world is changed.

Inciting incident: The problem that has threatened the character and their world so they are forced to take action, even if they are reluctant.

Lead up to first plot point/turning point: Character can still be refusing to accept the change and their part of the adventure.

First major plot point/turning point: The character is committed and pulled into the story problem.

Pinch #1-this is the tightening that occurs from the first plot point

Midpoint– for romance this is where emotional commitment or possibly physical commitment occurs. The buildup has risen to this point. Hero/heroine’s journey has shifted from self. This is the point of no return.

Pinch # 2 (downward arc of character development) the tightening begins as things fall apart and refers to the first Pinch.

Second Major plot point/turning point (heading toward crisis) Conflicts of the hero and heroine blend in both internal and external as an event or a series of them are thrown at them. Ex. Hero and heroine can’t be together because of _____   and they’re kicking themselves for opening up their heart and trusting someone.

Dark Moment/Crisis: They’re at the very bottom and all looks like is lost. A hard, difficult choice must be made. The reader is wondering how can the characters get out of this mess (we hope!) or will they lose everything? The choices are ugly and cut to the core of the character’s greatest fear(s).

Climax/Resolution of main conflicts: The supreme sacrifice has been made.  By making the choice to take the hard way, the hero/heroine has faced their worst fear(s), sacrificed their focus on themselves and have now embraced a new goal, a life together.

Final Scene/Epilogue: By risking everything the hero and heroine are better off than when they started including having their internal needs met and the story question raised at the beginning of the book is answered. They are complete now they have each other and have learned life lessons making them wiser.

Reading the blogs of other writers has helped me tremendously. Kristen Lamb as a blog topic that falls right into place with this one. You can find the post here: Kristen Lamb’s Blog (Three Ways To Add the Sizzle to Fiction That’s Fizzled). Kristen has an amazing blog!

Take care and keep creating!




Creativity Chaos

There is so much I want to create and I want to do it all. Right, now.

Create, what? Well, my list so far is refashioning clothes, creating mixed media art journals, writing my novels and short stories, learn digital art, learn how to knit and crochet, start a quilt. Does anyone else experience this or is it just me? Creative energy just waiting to burst through. My whole body is in anticipation, tingling with excitement to create…something!


Since I can’t do everything at once, I think I need some planning for this chaos of creativity or I might not accomplish anything. What I’ve done so far is daily write in my planner what I’ve done for my art and writing. Sometimes it isn’t much, but I try to do something every day to push me toward the goals I’ve set for the week/month/year.

So far, I’ve done pretty good doing some small things, but I haven’t reached the goals I set for myself by this month for the larger writing projects. However, my good news for February is I’ll be teaching a one day workshop on Characterization and plotting for the Hearts Through History online chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Hot tea, coffee and chocolate always seem to help along with snuggling with my terrier, Sparky Lionel Urban, my muse.


Teaching helps my creativity, but it requires organization. I hope to keep the focus by applying it to my other areas of interest. Writing out the short term and long term projects will bring some perspective to the task and what to I want to do the most.

One of the solutions I’ve come up with is  write part of the day, then do an arty project the other part of the day. Maybe include a progress chart or something to visually let me know where I am.

What to y’all do to organize your creative chaos?

Hugs, Tambra Nicole

Art Journaling

I’m doing my first art journal. Thanks to Jennibellie’s inspiring video on creating an art journal from a cereal box. Glue, paint, printed papers from scrapbooking, comics from the newspaper, wrapping paper, whatever you want, whatever you have give it a try.  To watch the video that inspired me:

Art helps me with my writing. I know many writers are creative in other areas and they’ve told me their other imaginative endeavors help with their writing as well.

To learn about her art community, go here:


I hope you give art journaling a try. My goal is to work in it weekly, once it’s finished, of course.

Happy holidays and many blessings to you and yours!

Hugs to all! Tambra


My New Book Release! The Writer’s Creativity Journal

Hi everyone,

I’m so excited to share my new book with you! I went looking for a writing journal and couldn’t find what I wanted, so I created one.

Cover for The Writer's Creativity Journal

Cover for The Writer’s Creativity Journal

This journal was designed for those who just want one place to write their stories or ideas, a place to let your imagination flow free on the pages. Experiment with a genre you’ve always wanted to write in, or maybe a non-fiction topic that’s grabbed your attention. Of course, you can always use this as you would any other journal.

One of the ways my journal is different is the amount of pages available for creating: over 300 pages. This was one of the areas I didn’t like – not enough pages.

At the beginning of the book you’ll find a small section on brainstorming, mind-mapping, clustering as well as ideas for writing prompts. Sometimes the imagination needs a small nudge to get going. If you’re ready to create, skip first 12 pages or so and write.

You can purchase the book at Amazon:  The Writer’s Creativity Journal

Thank you for letting me share my good news with you. I’ve worked hard to make this book useful and ignite your creativity.

All the best! Tambra

Living With Celiac

Living With Celiac

Are you a foodie? I am. When my health allows, I love to cook.

Food is such an important part of life. Families and friends gathered around the table sharing a meal, laughter and company. Holidays, special occasions from large to small.

For years I’ve had intestinal issues but attributed it to the extreme stress I was under. Later on I learned about some of my family background. In 2014 I was diagnosed with Celiac. This answered some of the problems.

You can’t make positive changes unless you know what the problem is. For those of you who may not know, Celiac is not a mild allergy. If it isn’t diagnosed and you aren’t on a gluten free diet, you can die. If enough of the villi in the small intestine break off, you will starve to death. So please, be respectful to people who have Celiac and are gluten sensitive.

I’m mostly Scottish and English with Irish and Welsh tossed in for good measure. So, I have the right ancestry. For those interested in the type of test used, this information comes from Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten-containing diet. Before you have the test done the doctor will have you eat gluten for a week, then the test is done and sent off to a lab. At least here in the United States that’s how it’s done.

People who are gluten sensitive can have similar symptoms as those with Celiac. This explanation comes from Gluten Free Living “Scientists from the Center for Celiac Research have also found that gluten sensitivity is a bona fide condition, distinct from celiac disease, with its own intestinal response to gluten. Although gluten-sensitive patients have the diarrhea, abdominal pain and other symptoms suffered by those with celiac disease, they do not have the intestinal inflammation, flattening of the absorbing villi or long-term damage to small intestine that characterizes untreated celiac disease.

Researchers found differences between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in intestinal permeability and genes regulating the immune response in the gut. (Intestinal permeability is the ability of the mucosal layer of the digestive tract to prevent bacteria, antigens, and undigested food proteins from seeping through the gastro-intestinal barrier. Those who have celiac disease often have a high degree of permeability, sometimes called a leaky gut, but the study found that was not the case in those who are gluten sensitive.)”

Another issue has reared up.

I don’t know if this problem comes with having Celiac or if my body is a quirky mess.

I used to be able to eat chicken and turkey, or the occasional piece of beef. Beef was the worst as far as digestion goes. It felt like a brick in my stomach and it made my stomach hurt while bringing nausea along for the ride.

From what I’ve figured out, it seems it takes too much energy for my body to digest meat. I’ve gone back to ovo-lacto vegetarianism. My stomach and intestines appear happier with this decision.


For a time I was studying the Paleo diet, but with this no meat development it won’t work going all Paleo. All isn’t lost though; there are a number of recipes which are gluten free and adaptable. Yay! This makes me happy. A foodie needs choices. If you’re on Pinterest, stop by and check out my boards on Gluten Free, Paleo, DIY projects and my books. Pinterest has lots of places for a foodie to roam.

I know I’m not the only one who deals with more than one chronic health issue. Having the energy to make something from scratch doesn’t happen often. Even using a box mix can be more than my body can handle.

Some days it’s a major victory to open a can of soup and heat it up. The bad days consist of peanut butter (peanut paste across the pond) spread on a piece of bread. When you have a horrid day you don’t eat at all. This isn’t a statement for drama purposes. This is a reality many deal with more frequently than anyone knows.

Depression can wiggle in and make itself at home. Don’t let it become comfortable. You do the best you can where you are health-wise. Use what you have to work with.

Look for the blessings.


What’s a foodie to do with all these dietary restrictions? Get creative! Think outside the box and do some research. Choose to have a positive attitude. Experiment if you can and keep the joy cooking alive.

God Bless the companies offering quality bread, crackers, pasta and cookies giving us more possibilities and options.

Remember when cooking no one is perfect and not every recipe will turn out either. Sometimes we stumble upon something we deem a mistake and it isn’t. Also, it isn’t the end of the world because a dish didn’t turn out. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re new to cooking give yourself a chance to learn.

Here are a couple of the books on my cooking bookshelf you might find helpful:

Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts

The Gradual Vegetarian by Lisa Tracy

The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas (not sure if this one is still in print, hope so!)

The internet (blogs, Pinterest, websites), the bookstore and Food Networks are all places to discover great vegetarian, gluten free, vegan and Paleo recipes. It’s all about eating good food that feeds your body and soul.

Some of these people you may recognize and others who may be new to you. Check out what they have to offer. I’m inspired by Jamie Oliver. I love his recipes and his approach to food. Jamie Oliver

Miyoko Schinner is amazing! I can’t wait to try her brown rice-mushroom burgers. Miyoko says they freeze well, too. She also creates vegan cheese that taste as good as dairy cheese. Miyoko’s Kitchen

Nicole Hunn of Gluten Free on a Shoestring has quickly become a favorite place of mine. Her books are on my to-be-bought-list. Gluten Free on a Shoestring

If you haven’t tried Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen, go and see all the lovely recipes he has on his site. There’s a mixture of recipes containing gluten and some gluten free like Jamie’s, but there’s always something good. Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen

I hope this post offers some insight on living with Celiac as well as giving you some exciting places to explore. Having a disease like Celiac means you have to adjust to what your normal is and fearlessly create what works for you. As a foodie living with Celiac, life is good. Very good.

If you’re a foodie living with health issues, what have you done to adjust? I’m looking forward to hearing your solutions.

All the best to you!

Tambra Nicole

Here is my interview with Tambra Nicole Kendall

Here is my interview with the lovely, Fiona Mcvie!


Name Tambra Nicole Kendall

Age Almost 51

Where are you from Pasadena, Texas

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc  

I live in a small Texas town with my husband and our two furbabies. I love how quiet it is here and the wildlife. But not the snakes. I hate snakes. And spiders. In the two-and-a-half years I’ve lived here I’ve seen: deer, possum, raccoon, armadillo, coyotes (I love to hear them howl!), owls.  A negative of living in the country: Late last year I had my first snake encounter. I was bringing stuff in from the car and I couldn’t make this in one trip. This wasn’t an issue until I got close to the front porch. A bucket was turned on its side and there it was coiled up and watching. *full body shiver* I made it into the house and thought I…

View original post 1,901 more words

Subplots and Sugar Wafer Cookies

I got you at sugar wafer cookie didn’t I? They come in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. It came to mind these little treats are similar to subplots. Delicate sugar enhances the flavor of the thin layers of crunchy shell. When writing a subplot you want it to build up, relate to and add to the main plot.


Subplots have their own story questions just as the main story does and its own arc as well. They add complications to the main story line but not detract from it. Without subplots you don’t have a novel. If you have trouble understanding subplots think of it this way:  they’re like the thin delicate layers of a sugar wafer cookie. Every layer is a subplot, all working together to bring you that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth crunch. Wait a minute, I mean the subplots are carefully and seamlessly woven through the story.

Each of the subplots relate to the main characters, tell a parallel love story of secondary characters, foreshadowing or can be used as a flashback. A word of warning about flashbacks – use flashbacks with caution, they jerk the reader out of the story and slow the pacing to a crawl.

You can’t just stick any story thread in anywhere. Like when you test spaghetti, throwing it at the wall to see whether or not it adheres. Planning is needed for subplots as much for the main plot. The subplots also serve another important purpose: they keep you from having a sagging middle. Remember though, not all subplots run the entire length of the book. Some end, others pick up where another left off and a few stay until the end. Hopefully, the visual of the cookies can help when you’re crafting subplots.

James Scott Bell, kindly gave me permission to use this information on the number of subplots in a novel.

James Scott Bell

A subplot is not merely a plot “complication.” A subplot has its own reason for being, and weaves in and out of (or back and forth with) the main plot.

That being so, here is my formula for the maximum number of subplots, by word count, you can have in your novel (a novel being a minimum of 60,000 words).
60k words: 1 subplot (e.g., in a category romance, you might have the female Lead plotline, and the love interest plotline, which intersect)

80k: 2-3

100k: 3-4

Over 100 k: 5

There is no 6. Six subplots is too many for any length, unless your name is Stephen King.

I think if you have more subplots than suggested number mentioned above, they will either overwhelm or detract from the main plot. I hope this blog post has helped you understand what subplots do and how they’re used in novels.

Thank you for stopping by!

All my best, Tambra Nicole Kendall