A Season of Reflection and Gratitude

28 November 2021 by Tambra Nicole Kendall

Image of a starry sky by Larisa Koshkina

In the past hubby and I have tried to make it to a Transiberian Orchestra concert during the Christmas holiday. It would have been lovely to attend this year but with Covid not under control, I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. They put on such a wonderful show. You feel energized and happy when you leave.


I hope the link works so you can hear the Transiberian Orchestra if you haven’t before. I grateful we’ve had the opportunity to attend their concerts in the past. Ten years ago that wouldn’t have been possible. There are so many blessings. Food, shelter, a nice little town where I can walk Smudge and not worry about my safety.

I have a good team of doctors helping me live life as best I can with the chronic conditions I have. The coming new year will find me focused on getting back into doing Zumba Express and some Bollywood Dance to lose some weight and strengthen my muscles and stamina. There are a number writing projects I’d love to finish and share with you. One of my goals is to figure out how to focus better. Recently, I had someone confirm that my creative energy in art and craft feeds my writing energy. This reminder came at the perfect time.

I’m grateful for the people who read my blog and Smudge’s Doggy Bloggy. We thank you for your comments and for staying with us. The act of being grateful changes your whole focus. Jack Canfield is one of the people I listen to on the topic.

A few days ago, I watched my favourite Christmas movie, White Christmas the song, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep explains gratitude perfectly and simply. Here are the lyrics if you don’t know them.

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings. I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessingsI think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Irving BerlinCount Your Blessings Instead of Sheep lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC

Vintage illustration of a Westie and Scottie dog wearing red bows and looking through a window

My wish is for all of you to have the happiest holiday season with your loved ones. Until we meet here again, take care of yourselves and each other.


NaNoWriMo According to Smudge MacRuff and a Printable Word Count Calendar

10 October 2021

Hi y’all,

Here’s no frills NaNoWriMo calendar. After you print it out you can add stickers or washi tape. 🙂 I think there’s enough space for you to write your word count beneath the word count number to keep you on track. I hope you find inspiration from the forums, meeting writers from all over the world, and being inspired to write the story of your heart. NaNo is supposed to be fun, not a drudge. Should you persevere at the end you’ll have a draft of a manuscript, a big portion of editing, forward progress on whatever you’re writing.

NaNo is all about getting the story down. Editing comes later.

Smudge Alpin MacRuff wants to help writers with NaNo so here’s his POV on what happens when you undertake the month of November’s literary abandon.

Think about what you want to write. Be sure you like it enough to write on the story everyday.
After you join NaNoWriMo get some writing friends to join you. Friends always make everything more fun!
Stay focused. Don’t quit! Quick, word sprints!
Why aren’t you cooperating story? I give you the evil eye. I do not like you anymore.
You see these shreds manuscript…that’s what will happen to you if you mess with me again.
Swift kick in the writing pants. I can do this because I’m the Boss!
You did it! Do something nice for yourself. All that hard work was worth it.

All the best writing vibes and positive thoughts to everyone! Love, Tambra and Smudge

Preptober for NaNoWriMo

24 September 2021

Old books on a shelf

Hi y’all,

I know this is a wee bit early before October but I wanted to go ahead and share some resources to help you prepare for National Novel Writing Month (November). If you have problems finishing a manuscript NaNoWriMo might help you finish. It teaches you how to muffle/choke your inner editor. Bribery works for my inner editor.

What if you aren’t writing fiction and still want to participate in this frenzied event? You can be a NaNo Rebel. A NaNo Rebel is a NaNoWriMo participant who chooses to write something besides a novel of at least 50,000 words in November. Some rebels choose to revise and edit their novels, while others wander into the worlds of nonfiction, video games, scripts, and academic writing.

Back to the topic of novel writing. It’s easy for a nonwriter or someone who only writes short stories to say, “writing a novel can’t be that hard.” It can be. Many people wistfully say they want to write a novel one day. I’ll bet they started to really think about it, then broke out into an icy sweat while slowly backing away from that idea.

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I’ve found that breaking such a large project into smaller pieces makes the process less overwhelming and easier to organize. I write my stories in Word but keep them organized in Scrivener.

To have an idea of where I’m going, I write out what I know about the major plot points and/or the pinch points in my story. This is a good start but I also need a way to keep myself on track without interfering my flow of creativity. Using the Hero’s Journey and the 3-Act Structure, along with the plot points I’ve written out give me a road map to follow. BUT, this method also gives me the room I need if I come up with ideas that are better than my initial effort. A Google search brings up lots of resources to help you prepare for NaNo.

Reedsy has an article that explains the Three Act Structure if you’re unfamiliar with this story structure. https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/story-structure/three-act-structure/

Here’s a link for the Hero’s Journey if you’d like to know more. https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/story-structure/heros-journey/

Author, Eva Deverell has plethora of writing worksheets to help get your Preptober off to a great start! https://www.eadeverell.com/preptober-schedule/

The NaNo website has helpful information, too. https://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep-101

Here’s the word count breakdown to reach the 50,000 word goal: 1,667 words per day or 7 pages. If you can’t sit down and write that number of pages in a single sitting you can write 556 words in three sessions which will keep you at the daily goal.

Do you have a child or teen who’s a writer? NaNoWriMo has a Young Writer’s Program.

I hope the links provide a good starting place for your novel preparation. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, don’t put it off. Take the plunge! Don’t worry if you don’t reach the 200 pages goal what’s important is that you learned more about writing, yourself, and maybe made some new writing friends.

Keep writing and creating!


P.S. Don’t forget my Essentials of Characterization and Plotting workshop starts October 6. Here’s the link to register! https://www.heartsthroughhistory.com/event/the-essentials-of-characterization-and-plotting/

More NaNoWriMo Tips!

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!).

Have fun with NaNoWriMo make new writing friends!

Hugs to all, Tambra Nicole

Listening to my Heart

August 22, 2020

Hi y’all,

I talk more about my writing than I do my art on this blog. When I was twelve years old (in the 6th grade) one of my teachers, **Sherry Miller said she wanted to know what each of us wanted to do when we grew up. Luckily, I wasn’t the first person. As I listened to what the other kids wanted to do it occurred to me how much of a creative weirdo I am. Not one student wanted to be an author and artist except for me.

This simple action revealed the reason why I never fit in. As an adult I embrace the freedom of having a creative mind and soul. Growing up it was okay for me to be good at art, but wanting a career in the creative arts was forbidden. Sometimes my Dad and step-mom would like a project I was working on. Offering words of support and encouragement never came. When I stopped sketching I became depressed so I learned early on not to tell anyone anything.

**Krystal Higgins was my art teacher. She made art class exciting and fun. I wanted to be like her, a free spirit, a strong woman.

I would love to tell these two former teachers that I have fought and slogged through life’s trials to achieve my goals to become an artist and author just like I said I wanted in the 6th grade.

I hope you enjoy my photography and watercolours. They are a work-in-progress just as I am. Thank you for your support and subscribing to my blog and newsletter.

**Denotes Beech Grove Middle School (Indiana)

Sending you love and blessings!


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