Free Template for Planners

Hi everyone,

I’m trying out The Happy Planner ® (disc system) this year. I think the versatility of it will be perfect for me. It’s taken a long time to find a planner with structure and versatility but would also leave room for me to be creative and change things as my needs shift and change. I love my Happy Planner! You can find them here: Me and My Big Ideas – The Happy Planner

People are trying to organize their lives to reduce their stress. I created a one-page template that I hope will be helpful to you. PriorityTaskTemplate1

I appreciate all of you who take the time to read my blog posts, or chatting with me on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward getting to know more of my readers and people who share common interests.

May this new year be filled with love, happiness, and blessings to you all!

Tambra Nicole


The Essentials of Plotting and Characterization

 Just a reminder, this is the last class I’m teaching for this year. If you’ve been wanting to take my workshop now’s the time! Remember, National Novel Writing Month is in November along with Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the New Year.

 I’d love to see you and help you reach your writing goals!

Hugs to all!

Tambra Nicole Kendall

The Essential Guide to Plotting and Characterization

Online Workshop for the Hearts Through History Romance Writers of America Chapter

When: 10/2/2017- 10/27/2017

Where to register:


In this course, we will discuss how to plot a story, what keeps it moving, and how storytellers drag readers into a fictional world and keep them there. We will learn story structure, pacing, world building, how to connect the beginning, middle and end, and much more.

Lesson One: Brainstorming

Lesson Two: Backstory, Plot Sketches, Show, Don’t Tell and Effective Description

Lesson Three: Character is Action, Plot is Action

Lesson Four: GMC – Goal, Motivation and Conflict Goal, Urgency, Motivation

Lesson Five: Writing Strong Characters and Viewpoint, Deep Point of View, Stimulus and Response

Lesson Six: Sagging Middles

Lesson Seven: Scene and Sequel Structure

Lesson Eight: Plotting Methods

Lesson Nine: Creating Dimensional Characters

Lesson Ten: Adding Tension and Danger

Lesson Eleven: Writing Sexual Tension

Lesson Twelve: Basic Worldbuilding

Presenter, Tambra Nicole Kendall:

I knew when I was 12 years old I wanted to write romance. All those summers spent at the public library reading Nancy Drew, historical romance, and category romance infused my love of the romance genre.

Authors who have influenced my writing are Sherrilyn Kenyon, Angela Knight, Deidre Knight, Christina Dodd, Arnette Lamb, Kerrelyn Sparks, Kimberly Raye, Stephen Lawhead and Jim Butcher. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the following chapters: Northwest Houston, Kiss of Death Romantic Suspense chapter, Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal and Celtic Hearts Romance Chapter.

My publishing credits include nonfiction: magazine, newspaper and trade publications.

I illustrated, wrote and self-published a specialty children’s book on ADHD. A few years later, I took the Institute for Children’s Literature course continuing my interest in writing for children while learning the craft of romance writing.

Teaching is my way to give back to others and I teach when time allows. In the past, I’ve given workshops to various RWA chapters and Savvy Authors and on occasion at my local college.




My Last Workshop for 2017



Hi y’all,

October 2-27, 2017 I’ll be teaching my Essential Guide to Plotting and Characterization for the Hearts Through History Romance Writers of America chapter. Here’s a link to their classes. Scroll down and you’ll find my workshop. Hearts Through History Classes





A message from Tambra’s fuzzy muse



I’m always striving to improve my writing. I take at least one workshop a year to strengthen an area I feel I need to focus on. Teaching gives me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others and it helps with my writing, too. I know not understanding certain writing techniques can make you want to scream while the joy and fun of writing is sucked right out of you.

Seeing and hearing information presented by numerous people can improve your understanding of a variety of topics. Many times people will grasp a portion of a subject and discover later on there were other layers involved their minds weren’t ready to process. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but knowing what they are and how to improve will give the boost needed to reach the goals you’ve set.

I hope you’ll join me in October!

Happy Writing,


Another Workshop Scheduled for July 2017

If you can’t join me for my March workshop, I’ll be teaching it again in July for the Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal RWA chapter.

The Essential Guide to Plotting and Characterization

In this course, we will discuss how to plot a story, what keeps it moving, and how storytellers drag readers into a fictional world and keep them there. We will learn story structure, pacing, world building, how to connect the beginning, middle and end, and much more.
Lesson One: Brainstorming
Lesson Two: Backstory, Plot Sketches, Show, Don’t Tell and Effective Description
Lesson Three: Character is Action, Plot is Action
Lesson Four: GMC – Goal, Motivation and Conflict Goal, Urgency, Motivation
Lesson Five: Writing Strong Characters and Viewpoint, Deep Point of View, Stimulus, and Response
Lesson Six: Sagging Middles
Lesson Seven: Scene and Sequel Structure
Lesson Eight: Plotting Methods
Lesson Nine: Creating Dimensional Characters
Lesson Ten: Adding Tension and Danger
Lesson Eleven: Writing Sexual Tension
Lesson Twelve: Basic Worldbuilding

About the Presenter, Tambra Nicole Kendall:

Tambra knew from the time she was 12 years old she wanted to write romance. All those summers spent at the public library reading Nancy Drew, historical romance and category romance infused her love of the romance genre. Authors who have influenced her writing are Sherrilyn Kenyon, Angela Knight, Deidre Knight, Christina Dodd, Arnette Lamb, Kerrelyn Sparks, Kimberly Raye and Jim Butcher.
In 1994, she joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Through years of study and hard work, she became a multi-published author writing for e-publishers and small press.
Tambra also writes nonfiction.  Her work has been published in magazine, newspaper and trade publications.
In 1990 she illustrated, wrote and self-published a specialty children’s book on ADHD focusing on behavior modification.  A few years later, she took the Institute for Children’s Literature course keeping learning more about writing for children while soaking up all of the information on the craft of romance writing.
Teaching is Tambra’s way to give back to other writers. She’s given workshops to various RWA chapters and for Savvy Authors and occasionally at her local college.
You can connect with Tambra at these social media places:

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $30.00

Upcoming Workshop by Tambra Nicole Kendall

This is my fuzzy muse and he wants to know why aren’t you writing? Does the idea of plotting make you want to run and hide? Or does characterization leave you frustrated and frazzled? Let me help you!




From March 6-31, 2017 I’ll be teaching this month long workshop on Characterization and Plotting for the Las Vegas Romance Writers of America chapter. Here’s the link for the details Characterization and Plotting workshop

If you’re interested in learning how characterization and plot work together, please join me this workshop.

I hope to see you there!



Christmas of Hope by Tambra Nicole Kendall

An excerpt from my Christmas novella and a recipe for Scottish Sparkle. Hope you enjoy!

Terry Spear's Shifters

christmas-of-hope-cover-2015Christmas of Hope
Tambra Nicole Kendall
Chapter One
Christmasville, Texas
“Stop, Daddy!” Hope Claus stood on tiptoe and pointed at the window of The Magic Café. “I want some hot chocolate with lots and lots of marshmallows. Please.”
“Great idea, Sweetheart.” Nick Claus‟ stomach rumbled in agreement. He must have walked from one end of the mall to the other at least ten times. He smiled at the thought. Hope must have looked in every single store. My daughter is a professional shopper at five years old. I’m in deep trouble.
A chill wind gusted, pushing hard against his back. He rolled his shoulders and shifted his body to protect Hope. Nick shoved the shopping bags into one hand and opened the door.
Hope scampered inside, impatience making her feet dance in place. “Hurry, Daddy!”
“I’m right behind you, Sweetheart.” Once inside, a blast of heat redolent with the…

View original post 828 more words


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